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How Others See Us - "comments on the institution-destroying cynicism at the University of Minnesota"

I arrived back from a mind-cleansing 'Up North' few days of no telephones, no tv, no internet, and no newspapers.

Sadly, more disappointing news has appeared about the U. Professor Margaret Soltan at George Washington University has an outstanding academic blog entitled University Diaries. Therein she quotes the latest from the Strib about the conflict in our goals of having a great football team - or even a respectable one - and our ambitious aspirations to be one of the top three public research universities in the universe.

From University Diaries:

The Star Tribune Editorializes

Its editorial board comments on the institution-destroying cynicism at the University of Minnesota:

“It’s impossible to read Wednesday’s Star Tribune story about the abysmal ACT scores recorded by incoming Gophers football players without coming to this conclusion:

The University of Minnesota is taking a win-at-all costs approach to rebuilding its gridiron program. Here’s a question for U President Robert Bruininks, Athletic Director Joel Maturi and head coach Tim Brewster: Can’t a great university do better than this?

The story by Dennis Brackin had been in the works long before prize quarterback recruit MarQueis Gray was recently dropped from the program while officials review his academic record. Unfortunately, Gray’s case is not an isolated problem; it’s a high-profile symptom of a sports program taking a huge risk by relying far too much on players who don’t appear ready for college.

Under the federal Freedom of Information Act, Brackin made a records request for the entrance exam scores for incoming freshman football players at Big Ten schools. Eight schools complied (the exceptions: Michigan, Northwestern and Penn State). The data was disturbing. The Gophers incoming freshmen had the lowest composite ACT score among the eight schools: an embarrassing 17.2 on national signing day. The score for all incoming recruits may even be lower, because the figure did not include the academic records of Minnesota’s unusually large class of junior college signees, who often are even more academically challenged. Typically, those scoring less than 18 on the well-known ACT are not considered ready for college-level study…

For a decade or more, the U’s football graduation rates have been either the Big Ten’s worst or close to it. According to the latest NCAA stats tracking six-year graduation rates, Minnesota and Michigan State were the Big Ten’s basement dwellers; more than 50 percent of their players failed to get a degree.

… Undoubtedly, there is intense pressure on the Gophers to field a winning team. No one wants a repeat of last year’s 1-11 record. And those who pushed for the new on-campus stadium understandably hope the team’s talent justifies the new digs and excites a new generation of fans and ticket buyers. But betting the team’s future on so many at-risk players is unwise, especially at a university where high-profile academic fraud in the basketball program is still a painful memory.

In its quest to become a world-class university, the U is demanding ever-higher entrance requirements from regular students, and the ACT for all incoming freshman this year is expected to be above 26. Desperation for gridiron victories and bowl games does not justify lowering its standards for those who will take the field in maroon and gold.?

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