Washington case is a bureaucratic puzzle

The University men’s basketball team received national attention after its star freshman pick, Wesley Washington, left the University just before school began in a situation rife with controversy. Although such a case is rare in college athletics, the University needs to be more open about what happened in order to prevent future similar situations.

Last fall, Washington – ranked 51st in the nation after his high school career – signed a formal letter of intent to play with the Gophers and spent the summer with the basketball team. However, one week before school began, the University decided not to admit Washington because it questioned the legitimacy of his SAT scores.

After Washington scored 810 on his first SAT and 1010 on his second, SAT administrators questioned the jump in scores and asked him to retake the test, according to the Star Tribune. Washington said he scored 1030 on the third; he was thereafter cleared of wrongdoing by SAT administrators, but not the University. The recruit reportedly left for his

California home in tears. The loss came as a huge blow to his team and their fans.

Although the basketball player shared his side of the story with the media, the University’s Office of Admissions, citing privacy laws, remains tight-lipped about the case. In order to figure out what went wrong for Washington, however, we must find a way to examine the admissions system while respecting student privacy.

Athletics Director Joel Maturi said “the recruitment process is not an exact science.” Student-athletes navigate the recruiting process virtually alone and a University misstep can profoundly affect them and reflect poorly on institutional values.

Washington was probably the unwitting victim of simple, fixable, bureaucratic problems. But it is difficult to confirm this when administrators are reticent to disclose their role. In the future, if we are unable to demand accountability, we should expect admissions cases like this one to be hashed out in the newspapers or the courtroom.