We May All Be (Somewhat) Wrong About the Dorsey Situation

When word came this week that Demar Dorsey would not be admitted to Michigan, many Wolverine fans — myself included — bemoaned the decision of the admissions department to reject an NCAA qualified player who had already been offered a scholarship, especially someone who had been through everything Dorsey has gone through over the course of his recruitment. I said this yesterday (emphasis added for reasons which will be revealed shortly):

I don’t have much to add to this — everything I said yesterday still holds true, in that this process has been incredibly unfair to Dorsey and is an embarrassment to the school and the program. Word is Rich Rodriguez is furious about the situation, and I don’t blame him one bit. He got cleared by someone at the school to offer Dorsey a scholarship, Dorsey qualified, and admissions refused to let him in (despite what sounds like a strong push from the coaching staff to reconsider) — this is not only unfortunate for Dorsey, who now has to find another school, but for Rodriguez and his staff, who will certainly be placed under scrutiny by recruits (and opposing coaches recruiting Michigan targets) about their ability to get commits on campus who may be borderline qualifiers.

The highlighted part of that paragraph was based on something stated by Brian Cook at MGoBlog before Dorsey had officially been released from his commitment:

This situation is the Draper/Labadie/compliance dysfunction all over again, with miscommunication between Rodriguez—who went to bat for Dorsey with a provost before signing day and got a signoff on him—and admissions replacing the lack of communication between the football administration and compliance. It’s a different sclerotic artery, but the root cause is the same.

Why do I bring this up? Today I received an email from a close friend with an intimate knowledge of the Dorsey situation. To protect my friend and his source, parts of the following email have been redacted, but I can tell you that I firmly believe that everything he told me is true, and it helps to clarify the entire situation a great deal. Here’s the email (emphasis mine):

Stumbled on a little tidbit of inside info …  When Rodriguez offered Dorsey a scholarship, he had a [Ed: GPA and ACT score removed — suffice it to say, the scores didn’t qualify] . Florida withdrew his scholarship because of his grades. Nobody in admissions ever cleared Dorsey before Rodriguez offered a scholarship. He eventually got his grades up by dropping out of school, attending an alternative high school which he did not get credit from [Ed: this would be the LifeSkills school which released the promotional video featuring Dorsey], and taking online classes, all of which he got an A in. His ACT score (according to his coach, Michigan never saw documentation) jumped to 18. Dorsey never even filled out a standard college application, which all athletes are supposed to do to be considered. Long story short, there was no mix-up. Three felonies aside, strictly for academics, the director of admissions, Coleman, and Brandon all agreed that Dorsey had no place at Michigan. Rod never checked with anyone before offering a scholarship and having him sign a letter of intent. He just did it and then expected admissions to let him in. I feel sorry for the kid, but this was Rod’s fault, not admissions. Had Rod ever checked with anyone, he would’ve gotten a firm “no”. There wasn’t even a debate about whether he’d be let in. And apparently, Rod’s in the habit of doing stuff like this.

Anyway, I thought this was very discouraging to hear. I still have a lot of faith in Rod as a football coach, but he really is just a football coach. And since that was at odds with what you and Brian wrote, I thought I’d write to clear it up.

He added this in a follow-up email:

Brian wrote that the day before signing day Rod went to bat for [sic] “a Provost.” I have no idea what that means. There’s only one provost. If you refer to each of the associate provosts as “a provost” then there are three more. [My source] swears this never happened. Maybe he met with someone about the felonies. Again, this was not about the felonies, but instead about the grades. He had a [low GPA/ACT score] at the time. It is simple [sic] inconceivable that anyone involved with Michigan would have signed off on that.

To me, this whole story sounds much more viable than what most of us have presumed to be true for the last few days: that Rodriguez found someone who gave him clearance to offer a scholarship, only to have admissions reject Dorsey months later, with some massive failure in communication between the coaching staff and the admissions department occurring somewhere in the middle. Breaking stories is not my usual job as a blogger, but I couldn’t sit on this story — again, I believe it makes a lot of sense, and although I am forced to release it as a story from an anonymous source, I believe it to be true. If someone has a way of confirming the story, I would love to get a definite statement that it is in fact true — as a student blogging in my spare time, I don’t have the resources (or the sources) to find confirmation.

Just to clarify, I have the utmost respect for Brian Cook as a blogger — I’m sure a source did tell him that story about Rich Rod checking with “a provost,” and he certainly wasn’t the only Michigan fan/blogger to take the stance he did. Again, I made the exact same assumptions. As it stands, I still feel much the same way when it comes to Demar Dorsey: I still believe he did a great deal of work to get his life turned around and to qualify for the NCAA, which he did — he just didn’t meet the academic standards that Michigan upholds, and it was unfortunate that he was offered a scholarship when it was apparently very clear that he would never be admitted.

Instead, this looks very bad for Rodriguez, especially in light of the recent NCAA violations (regardless of who is really at fault for the violations, Rodriguez was still cited for a lack of institutional control, which appears to be the case again here). I still believe that Rodriguez is a good football coach who can succeed in Ann Arbor, but it is apparent that he will have to do a much better job of managing the off-the-field aspect of coaching if he hopes to stay out of these types of situations in the future.

UPDATE: MGoBrian has a post confirming (to the extent of his knowledge) the details of this post. Also, I have removed the information of Dorsey’s exact GPA and ACT score prior to his qualifying scores — I had no right to give out that information, and I sincerely apologize for leaving that part of the email intact. Posting that was irresponsible journalism and not right, but there was no malicious intent — I was just trying to get the story right and made a regretful error.

Also, this clears up the issue of Brian’s statement about the provost:

Ace spends a section of his post debunking the idea that Rodriguez got a sign-off on offering Dorsey from the “provost” mentioned. I think there’s been a miscommunication due to an awkward sentence. The original paragraph:

“This situation is the Draper/Labadie/compliance dysfunction all over again, with miscommunication between Rodriguez—who went to bat for Dorsey with a provost before signing day and got a signoff on him—and admissions replacing the lack of communication between the football administration and compliance. It’s a different sclerotic artery, but the root cause is the same.”

This has been taken to imply that Rodriguez had gotten some sort of sign off from admissions; unfortunately I was trying to express the opposite. When Rodriguez was clearing Dorsey with part of the university—something that did indeed happen, though it might not have been a “provost”—it was about his checkered past and not his checkered transcript. It was the failure of both parties not to explore the kid’s academic background sufficiently, or of Rodriguez not to understand that Michigan is not West Virginia in these matters*, that left Dorsey and Michigan in the position they are today, where Michigan looks stupid coming and going and Dorsey’s left to find a new home in the middle of June. That is essentially identical to the CARA form fiasco.

  1. I have no doubts the guy heard this and believes it. But it’s not even close to being true or plausible, at least in respect to Rich Rodriguez. This is the Lone Gun Theory and I’m sure it’s making its rounds among UM staffers.

    There may have been issues respecting his grades which caused UM to take a second look. But right now everyone is in CYA mode.

    And the reference to UF dropping him is also completely false. They had a dwindling number of scholarships to offer and DD kept looking elsewhere. They gave him an ultimatum about taking any more visits and then he took a visit. Scholarship pulled.

    This story will no doubt be music to the ears of RR critics but it’s bunk.

  2. One more thing – Brian Cook’s version of the story is not at all dependent upon whether the person who signed off on it is a provost. Contemporaneous reporting on NLOI day supports Cook’s version much more than the Lone Gun Theory.

    Someone got cold feet at the last minute. Which suddenly delayed DD’s announcement (while ESPN waited… and waited…). Whoever it was that changed his/her mind was essential to the process of offering scholarships to athletes and it stopped the whole thing right before the announcement.

    I happened to know that a former UF coach who also was a former UM coach and was involved in DD’s recruitment to UF got a phone call as part of the last minute due diligence to shore up this person. The right words were said and DD announced UM.

    So the real question is – what happened which ground the process to a halt? Well, duh, the press conference revealed it. DD’s juvenile background.

    So who cares if Brian got that one detail right? Who cares if it was a provost or not? It doesn’t at all change the rest of the story.

    This version you’re putting forth now defies all belief. In the midst of an investigation of RR, does anyone truly believe that he would have been given carte blanche to operate as a Lone Gun for anything? All contact with recruits is monitored. All visits, everything.

  3. Ace Anbender said:

    Oldmancoyote: I’ll only say that you can believe whatever you want to believe, but I stand by the source I have in this instance.

    Also, my source requested I part of the first email, and I have obliged. It changes nothing about the story or its viability, and was done solely to protect the interests of the source. My apologies for posting something and taking it down, but that’s the nature of anonymous sourcing.

  4. Mat said:

    Is something between a “lone gun” (blame RR) theory and a keep Demar away from AA conspiracy theory (blame admissions)?

    It seems more believable to me that the football program made incorrect assumptions about what admissions would allow than admissions went back on their word from January.

    It also seems presumptuous to me that ANYONE could decide his fate in January if he was borderline at the time and had another semester to go.

    Lets wait to see where he ends up before we criticize the University. I don’t feel 100% confident he is indeed NCAA-eligible just based on the word of a couple of people with a vested interest in DD being so.

  5. Mat said:

    Nice find Ace. The reaction of the UofM fanbase to this has been perplexing. Hopefully this info gets people to back off a bit.

  6. rururufus82 said:

    This article is a joke. First of all, many people with no reason or connection to U of M said that Dorsey qualified academically to get into Michigan. There is no reason for ESPN and others to report this, as they could care less if he plays for Michigan or not. Also, admissions, RR, and others were all involved in issuing the LOI in February. But the biggest joke is that your source says “three felonies aside, strictly for academics, the director of admissions, Coleman, and Brandon all agreed that Dorsey had no place at Michigan.” BRANDON just stated he has NOTHING to do with admissions or bringing in or not bringing in Dorsey. So if your source is true that it shows Brandon is a complete liar and has no intention of giving RR a fair shot. Maybe instead of trying to blame RR you should just support the coach and realize that Michigan as a school messed up, mainly for stringing a kid along and going against their word. At least RR and his staff contacted Dorsey weeks ago to let him know that he might not be able to play for MIchigan. This is absurd that you feel the need to place the blame of this on RR when he had to fight along with other former UofM coaches to get DD his LOI.

  7. You can stand by your source. I fully accept he’s passing this along in good faith. It’s something he heard from people he’s inclined to believe. But analyzing the story on its merits is not in any way, shape, or form refuting your source. HE isn’t claiming first hand knowledge of what went down.

    What he heard has many elements which quite simply don’t quite fit other facts as we know them and it oh so conveniently absolves everyone but RR and DD of guilt.

    EVERY INSIDE SOURCE I HAVE is telling me that (A) Someone changed their mind and (B) someone (not necessarily the same person) pulled the rug out from Rodriguez. Those two facts converge on every version of the story I’ve heard, versions that differ in other elements. But this nonsense about RR operating and offering schollies without supervision is completely and utterly non-believable. NO program runs that way. There are so many people involved every step of the way in recruiting that it’s simply not possible for RR to run things that way, especially at a place like UM which was under investigation at the time.

    Are you kidding me????

    IMO, based on what I’ve heard, someone changed his mind or was freaking out and someone (else?) fairly high up simply changed his/her mind. What caused it?

    Did they fear DD’s transcripts being flagged? Is this Jamal Crawford all over again? (for those that don’t know, JC was suspended for a few bball games during the Goss era in an overreaction to rumors of his ineligibility which a subsequent investigation revealed were bunk; damage done, JC left for the NBA.) Most people who know now realize that in the 1990s UM shot themselves in the foot repeatedly and bent over backwards to handicap themselves with respect to the basketball program. I would not be surprised at all if the current culture at UM is leading towards that. In fact, we’ve already seen evidence of that and I think the whole mess with DD is the perfect example.

    If Life Skills is accredited and his diploma is/will be valid, what business is it of UM to tarnish Life Skills’ reputation and DD’s reputation on nothing more than the prejudicial fears of some guy with no personal knowledge of either? For crying out loud, Witty took the test again and passed it again with no flag. But someone at UM decided he didn’t like the taste of it and despite all that poor kid’s work to get in, denied him entry b/c of his prejudicial fear. It’s the exact same environment that led to bone-headed handicapping in the basketball program, from which we STILL haven’t recovered.

    But whatever. Lots of different theories. However, given the extraordinary way it was handled, especially compared to past practices (rejecting him in late May/June before the grades were in and before the qualification deadline had passed; compare to Witty situation, compare to Eugene Germany, Slocum, in which UM stuck with the kid for a long time and even through prep school), this has all the earmarks of someone changing their mind midstream, someone stepping in and pulling rank on the process.

    Not to mention the numerous people who have worked both for Carr and RR who confirm that RR is not being treated with the same respect by the admissions process. Some of them I’ve talked to even defend that!

    Some of them just don’t trust RR. And this is the guy that apparently is allowed to run around on his own offering scholarships. Like I said, it doesn’t make sense.

    Appreciate your source’s effort to pass the information along so that we can discuss it, but it simply doesn’t make sense.

  8. Ace Anbender said:

    Oldmancoyote: Again, I’m sticking by my source, and the information he received is as close to first-hand as you can get (again, I can’t say anything more without giving away too many details), but I just want to say that I appreciate what you’re bringing to the discussion and that you’re disagreeing in a respectful manner. There is still a lot that is unclear in this story, and we may never know all the details. I’m relaying information I believe to be true from a source I trust.

  9. At the end of the day, we’ll both be rooting for the same team this fall. How could we not respect each other?

  10. Ace Anbender said:

    I wish everyone with access to a message board took that same stance. Go Blue.

  11. bopnoh10 said:

    Unfortunately, you’re very false. UF did NOT ever pull his scholarship. In fact, they even tried to sign him right before NLOI day. Dorsey even stated in an interview that he did NOT get all A’s his senior year as your article asserts, but instead his GPA was slightly above a 2.5 and he even stated his junior year that his goal was to bring up his grades to a 2.9. I mean do you really think that someone is going to risk their neck to give you Dorsey’s actual transcript information? The ONLY reasons that Dorsey did not get in are because the Freep made a huge thing about prior charges (NOT convictions as he was acquitted in one case and in the other the charges were dismissed) and because RR doesn’t have any support from the school. If RR had a 8-4 record last year, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

  12. Ed said:

    Has there ever been a more divisive figure in Michigan Athletics than Rich Rod?

  13. 123kid said:

    All of this could be true, and yet if Dorsey attends Louisville/FSU/Tennessee, maintains his eligibility and becomes an all-american, there’s a real problem. RR wants to win a national title, and if he *is* somewhat successful here despite these pointless handcuffs, he’s going to run to a school that wants to win a title, not a school that’s proud to go 8-5 with slightly less dumb football players.

  14. Albertson said:

    Talk about smokescreen. There are only a few relevant facts to this. The kid was denied admissions before given a chance to qualify.

    Take all the names and players out of the equation. Saying “this looks bad for Rich Rod” is a clear admission of a side or point of view slant this is taken. I don’t know what went down with who, but if the end fact remains a kid qualifies for NCAA football but michigan admissions didn’t admit, this is clearly an admission related issue not a football coaching issue.

    If michigan admission want to have a bar or process raised that has higher standards then other NCAA schools, thats a seperate discussion that should take place rationaly without names involved. I think the majority of UM alumni and supports do not want this to occur. We value championship football, higher then the academic benefit of denying a few fringe players that have boderline credentials but still meet NCAA guidelines.

  15. AlwaysBlue said:

    Justin Feagin anyone? Where were all of those inside recruiter watchers then?

    It seems to me that RR pushes the envelope as hard as he can, especially when he can work in the gray areas. Some will say that’s bad, some will say that’s what successful people do. Either way, after what was revealed in the internal NCAA probe, I would expect there are fewer gray areas these days in Ann Arbor.

  16. jblaze said:

    Ace, I have no doubt that your source believes the story he was told. It also sounds plausible to me, but at the very best, this is 1 side of the story (the side of the department that your friend represents) and does not represent what RR and the coaches knew. It’s like when you watch a courtroom TV show and the defense attorney goes first and makes the killer look innocent. It’s just 1 side of the facts.

    At the very worst, you are originating and fueling a potentially damaging theory about Rich Rodriguez. Keep that in mind.

  17. Willyd said:

    Just another example of a divided fan base hurting Michigan in the long run. You don’t know any of this to be the absolute truth, but you are willing to blame RR as the sole bad actor, doing your best to blame RR! Witty graduated and was accepted at Cincinatti, but was not eligeable by our admissions. How could admissions all of a sudden not accept a person who did qualify, just didn’t like how much of an improvment he made. You think maybe the kid wanted in so bad he worked his butt of to make sure he got the best score possible. After Slocum and the others Witty should not have been a problem and we still don’t know everything about DD yet. It sounds to me like you and your source have an agenda.

  18. Wade said:

    This has a lot of truth, Demar never had a chance of making the grades to get into UM, this was widely known to the state of Florida recruiting experts. I could also post his GPA and SAT scores, if you remove the cupcake lifeskills scores, they are not pretty.
    The silly rumors of a conspiracy in the AD against RR has no roots.
    I would love to have Demar at Michigan, but there was never a chance.

  19. Bubba said:

    If you do post his GPA and SAT scores (which you may be liable for), can you verify with certainty that it is really his GPA and SAT scores and not just hearsay? Do you have an official copy for all to see to verify this?

    That’s a slippery slope you’re currently on. Pretty amazing someone from the admissions department is liberally going around and emailing students’ test scores and grades (which is wholly against FERPA) to make a point (that’s a fireable offense and actually could bring liability to the University).

  20. Ace Anbender said:

    Thanks again to everyone for their feedback. For a couple clarifications on this story, please check out today’s post.

  21. EastCoastBlue said:

    I’m not so sure that RR is the most divisive figure, I think you could insert anyone who wasn’t a “Bo” guy…..

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