Yudof too flippant about academic fraud

Although University President Mark Yudof had appeared to be genuinely disturbed for the past months by the multiple scandals surrounding Gophers men’s athletics, his recent comments and actions suggest otherwise.
Yudof announced Tuesday that the Gophers men’s basketball team will be banned from postseason play and placed on probation. The ban prevents the Gophers from participating in the National Invitation Tournament or the NCAA tournament. The probation requires heightened levels of reporting, including periodic self-studies and compliance checks. Further sanctions or fines are also possible, because the NCAA has the power to impose penalties on the University.
The sanctions were put in place in response to academic fraud allegations introduced in March. A final report on the allegations is expected to be finished in the next few days and released to the public by mid-November.
While the sanctions suggest at least a minimal level of concern about preventing future wrongdoing, Yudof’s remarks are deeply troublesome. Referring to the sanctions, Yudof stated, “I would be very chagrined to know that I had imposed a harsher penalty than the NCAA. That’s part of the game here.” This comment implies Yudof considers the entire scandal something to merely cover up quickly and then disregard.
This philosophy is profoundly flawed. The allegations of academic fraud are nothing to be taken lightly. Ultimately, the goal of a university is to provide an education, not to provide a place for young men to play basketball. Although men’s basketball might provide the University with some money, without a team, the University would still exist and its primary missions would not be diminished in any way. If Yudof is serious about punishing those who committed academic fraud and preventing future wrongdoing, he should be willing to accept any sanctions the NCAA deems appropriate rather than attempting to avoid real punitive measures with clever maneuvers.
While this seeming avoidance of true solutions is bad enough, Yudof also has done little beyond the recently announced sanctions to prevent similar situations from occurring in the future. There has been no indication that the University will work harder to recruit only young men who are academically prepared for a college setting.
It is unfortunate that the sanctions will mainly affect players who in no way are responsible for the misdeeds that occurred in previous years. However, in Yudof’s concern for these innocent players, he cannot forget that exceptionally bad deeds did occur. In his haste to avert the imposition of harsher NCAA sanctions, Yudof is ignoring the important goal of preventing future academic misconduct. Yudof should follow up the sanctions with concrete plans to avoid future academic fraud.