I’m not sure what, if anything, Michael Adams ever did to the Boston Globe, but the flagship paper of New England has hammered Georgia’s president again. First it was a scathing Sunday column from the famous Bob Ryan. Now comes an actual editorial regarding the NCAA’s search for a new president — Adams says he’s not interested in the job, although almost nobody believes him — and the importance of graduation rates.
From the Globe:
Under the late Myles Brand, the NCAA nudged upwards the overall graduation rates of athletes in big-time men’s football and basketball to 67 percent and 64 percent, respectively. But the rates at many top powers remain appallingly low, and black athletes are graduating at far lower rates than whites. In seeking a new chief, the NCAA should be looking at campus leaders like Penn State President Graham Spanier, whose football team has an 85 percent graduation rate. Conversely, a name that should be crossed out is University of Georgia President Michael Adams, whose basketball team graduates a paltry 18 percent.
Far be it from me to rally to Dr. Adams’ defense, but I might point out that Georgia’s lousy hoops graduation rate might have more to do with inability of Dennis Felton, who was fired in January 2009, to keep players in his program — they’d either quit or get kicked off the squad — than any lack of presidential oversight. And if it’s an administrator who’s at fault, why Adams? Why not athletics director Damon Evans?
Speaking of defenders … some words on Adams’ behalf did appear in the Globe, in the form of a letter to the editor from Tom Jackson, Georgia’s vice president for public affairs. (Error on my part: Jackson was NOT a participant in our off-the-record luncheon at the Commerce Club in 2003. That was Tom Landrum, the vice president for external affairs. I always get the two Toms mixed up.)
Here’s Jackson’s letter:
What Bob Ryan did not tell you in last Sunday’s column about who could be the next NCAA president, is that University of Georgia president Michael F. Adams has stated for the record that he hopes to stay at the school as long as the state Board of Regents will have him. The years-old issues the column resurrected have long since been dissected and laid to rest by those to whom Adams reports and by the Georgia media.
Any institution on a rise to national prominence will have controversial issues and decisions with which some do not agree. However, this list of issues of alleged mismanagement by the president was brought forward by a group that disagreed with Adams’s 2002 decision not to extend the contract of the athletics director beyond the period already agreed upon. The book by Rich Whitt that Ryan referenced was promoted by members of that group whose agenda was removing Adams from office.
The university has moved on, as have most of those early critics. The University of Georgia has made outstanding gains in national prominence over the past 12 years, and Adams has stated for all who will hear that it is his plan to continue to focus on programs to further enhance its excellence for some years to come.
The Globe’s campaign has set off a round of giggles among Adams’ local detractors. (Believe it or not, I know one or two of them.) But even they can’t fathom why a Boston paper has taken such interest in the Georgia president. They’re not complaining, mind you. Just surprised.