Monday, March 19, 2007

Martin's Cavalier Comments Symptomatic

It was treated as a throwaway line, buried in the pile of March Madness coverage over the weekend. The speaker may not have intended it to come off looking as it did, but the words jumped off at me, spraying me with arrogance cloaked in India ink on newsprint.

Bill Martin, athletic director at the University of Michigan, was talking about the search for a new mens basketball coach. And he was responding to the concerns put forth to him that a candidate might have about the job -- specifically, the antiquated facilities at U-M, including the lack of a real practice facility.

"We're taking a look at the infrastructure of Crisler Arena," Martin said.

OK. Fine. But the next line is what staggered me.

"But if a coach wants to make a big issue out of not having a practice facility, then maybe he's not the coach for Michigan."

Is that so?

If Michigan is serious about mens basketball, and not just paying lip service, then the attitude poorly hidden in Martin's words to the papers must go the way of laces on the ball and short shorts.

Martin wants everyone to have a high regard for the Michigan basketball program, but where's his?

I wonder how many potential candidates, the prime time guys, got wind of Martin's flippant, cavalier remarks. I wonder how much that changes their opinion of the Michigan basketball program. And I wonder what would cause Martin to say such a thing.

"But if a coach wants to make a big issue out of not having a practice facility, then maybe he's not the coach for Michigan."

What does this mean, exactly? That whomever comes to Ann Arbor to coach basketball ought to just kiss the ground on the Diag and thank his creator that he's been afforded the privilege? That if you're going to make a "big issue" out of something as seemingly reasonable as, Why no practice facility?, that you yourself are unreasonable?

I submit that Martin's words are symptomatic of the second-class priority the athletic department places on basketball -- mens and womens. And while some may still consider the Michigan job a prime one, it's only that way because of its potential, not necessarily because everything's in place right now. But the potential will continue to be snuffed out as long as the attitude exhibited by Martin's pithy comments is the norm at Michigan.

It was also reported over the weekend that former coach Tommy Amaker had to pay for new carpeting for his office out of his own pocket. Strange, and I can't fathom Martin hitting football coach Lloyd Carr up for new rugs.

That being said, Amaker had to be fired, for lack of results on the floor. But someone needs to be culpable for the lack of investment in the program.

Or else the university will never truly get the "right coach for Michigan."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is obvious to everyone on the planet, except Martin, that the bb facilities are a joke. UM will not bring in a "big name" coach, because they won't spend the money. Why would a young rising star in the coaching ranks come to UM? He would have to compete against Izzo, Weber, and the suddenly potent Matta at OSU. All these guys can recruit the blue chip players. With poor facilities and a mid major coach, UM will never rise to the top of the B-10.