ANN ARBOR, Michigan — Even during a bye week for the Michigan football team, Brady Hoke finds himself in the middle of another strange off-field situation.
Hoke spent much of his Wednesday news conference addressing comments made earlier this week by university President Mark Schlissel. In a meeting with the Faculty Senate on Monday, Schlissel expressed concerns about the relationship between athletics and academics at the university, pointing specifically at the football program.
"We admit students who aren't as qualified, and it's probably the kids that we admit that can't honestly, even with lots of help, do the amount of work and the quality of work it takes to make progression from year to year," he said. "These past two years have gotten better, but before that, the graduation rates were terrible, with football somewhere in the 50s and 60s when our total six-year rate at the university is somewhere near 90 percent, so that's a challenge."
On Tuesday, Schlissel issued an apology to Hoke and the football program via the university's website for not clearly stating that the situation has gotten significantly better since Hoke replaced Rich Rodriguez.
"I talked with Coach Brady Hoke today to apologize for not providing this full picture in my earlier remarks, and I asked him to convey that to his team," Schlissel said in the statement. "And I plan to do the same, in person, when I return from out-of-town commitments. Academic success of our student-athletes is a priority for Coach Brady Hoke and all of our coaches. From my first conversation with Brady, it was clear that he views himself as a teacher and mentor of the young men in his charge, and I respect that greatly."
The football program's current 975 score on the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate is the highest the school has ever had. Hoke says that isn't an accident.
"We take academics very seriously," he said Wednesday. "We try to recruit the best football players who are also the best student-athletes."
Hoke also said that there have been players that he has chosen not to recruit because of academic reasons, although he declined to give any specific examples.
"We've always believed that this is a truly academic university," he said. "You can only play for so long, but a Michigan degree lasts forever."
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