“Forbes” ran an article a few days ago featuring an interview with Ted Spencer, Associate Provost and Executive Director of Undergraduate Admissions at the University of Michigan. In the piece on university admissions, Mr. Spencer is asked how loud of a voice alumni and athletic coaches have in University of Michigan admissions decisions. Let’s take a look at his response on the topic of university athletic recruiting.
Says Mr. Spencer, “The Office of Undergraduate Admissions is contacted periodically by a variety of internal and external constituencies, such as high school counselors, alumni, faculty, and members of the athletics, development and government relations offices. This input is never the determining factor in admissions decisions; although it is appreciated as an additional point of information, which is considered along with dozens of other variables. We have no ‘special handling’ category, list, or procedure to influence admissions decisions about prospective students/applicants on whose behalf these informational contacts have been made.”
Really, Mr. Spencer? Outside constituencies like a basketball coach at the University of Michigan can’t ultimately determine an admissions decision? Did Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Jalen Rose, and those two other guys in the Fab Five whose names always come up in trivia contests (Jimmy King and Ray Jackson) really all earn admission to the University of Michigan based on a variety of factors? Or were they admitted because they were some of the most talented basketball players in the country? We’ll let you decide.
Is college admissions at selective universities like the University of Michigan a holistic process? Yes. But that doesn’t mean one’s athletic talent can’t be a determining factor. Give us a break. University athletic recruiting has influence at a school like Michigan. Like it or not.