Dienhart defends coach-faculty relations

by Erin Ghere

Men’s athletics director Mark Dienhart defended men’s coaches and his boss, McKinley Boston, Thursday at a faculty-student committee meeting.
He said the academic-fraud report, to be released next week, is likely to blame a few academic counselors for pressure about grades.
But following Dienhart’s remarks, the committee passed recommendations to eliminate Boston’s position — vice president of student development and athletics — and limit contact between coaches and faculty members.
At least one faculty member, David Hamilton, a professor of cell biology and genetics, said he felt like Dienhart thought nothing was wrong.
Other committee members praised Dienhart and his staff. Mary Dempsey, a biochemistry professor, complimented Dienhart and said it was unfortunate the scandal happened during his tenure.
Dienhart said the committee’s recommendation to limit contact between faculty and coaches would create an “athletic leper colony.”
If he were to hear of coaches pressuring faculty members about grades, Dienhart said, “We will fire them. Period.”
Unless the University treats coaches as educators, Dienhart said it will continue to face athletic problems.
He recommended the passage should be reworded to allow contact but ban coaches’ influence on athletes’ grades. He said he didn’t think faculty members could be bullied by coaches.
“I have yet to meet a shy, retiring faculty member,” he said.
But he later agreed with faculty committee member Paula Rabinowitz, an English professor, that graduate teaching assistants were more vulnerable.
Dienhart also defended Boston, who is Dienhart’s supervisor, and Boston’s position.
“An unfair byproduct of the Clayton report is that it lays blame at Mac Boston’s feet,” Dienhart said. “That is unfair. Mac Boston is a good and honest person.”
Dienhart said eliminating the vice president’s position would only be symbolic and would not have the desired effect. He said cheating in the men’s basketball program occurred under three different administrative structures.

Erin Ghere covers faculty and state government and welcomes comments at eghere@daily.umn.edu. She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3217.