Athletics recommendations released

Erin Ghere

McKinley Boston’s position, vice president of student development and athletics, would be removed under a faculty-student committee recommendation passed unanimously Thursday.
The steering committee of the Twin Cities Assembly, a University governing body, also unanimously recommended strictly regulating conversations between coaches and faculty members.
The recommendations came after a subcommittee released its report last Thursday.
Forwarded to University President Mark Yudof’s office Thursday night, the resolutions recommend Yudof establish two separate administrative positions for student development and athletics. They also suggests a faculty-oversight committee to oversee athletic eligibility, academic progress and compliance.
Yudof said Wednesday that he is generally sympathetic to the committee’s report.
The committee’s recommendations also stemmed from the handling of sexual-misconduct complaints against athletes. It recommended that student-disciplinary proceedings should be completed quickly unless University proceedings would conflict with outside criminal or civil proceedings. According to the subcommittee report, University proceedings take too long.
Although the recommendations were supported unanimously, they did not pass without discussion. Committee members talked extensively about a recommendation that limits the discussion between coaches and faculty members.
Committee member Paula Rabinowitz, an English professor, said she was concerned that limiting who can talk to one another would limit free speech at the University.
Other members, including Marvin Marshak, a physics and astronomy professor, said they have had good conversations with coaches and would not want to be forced to curb those.
Marshak said many coaches contact professors to check on athletes’ academic progress to help the students, not to try to influence their grades.
Committee member Aaron Street, a College of Liberal Arts student, said he supported the recommendation because it would put student-athletes on a level playing field with other students. Most students don’t have coaches as advocates, he said.
A single sentence caused most of the problems the committee members had with the resolution: “All contact about an individual student’s academic performance must be through academic counselors.”
Changed three times, including by a tight vote of 6-5, the final resolution substituted the word “should” for “must.”
Eliminating Boston’s position was not discussed; it was passed with the rest of the resolution.
Additionally, Fred Morrison, chair of the committee and University law professor, said the committee members should make an effort to meet with coaches soon.
“(Current University coaches) are not the coaches that caused the problems,” he said.

Erin Ghere covers faculty and state government and welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3217.