Brandon's Blog: An Academic Season to Remember
Aug. 1, 2014

University of Michigan director of athletics Dave Brandon will regularly offer his view on a variety of topics related to U-M and intercollegiate sports. All his posts, along with links to related content, will be available on his page,, and he is also on Twitter at @DaveBrandonAD.

When fans set foot in Michigan Stadium, Crisler Center, Yost Ice Arena or one of our many University of Michigan athletic facilities, they are more than likely there to watch some of the best student-athletes in the country compete in their favorite sport. The Wolverine student-athletes are well-prepared and ready to compete at the highest level in intercollegiate athletics. Fans typically judge the teams and the players by wins and losses, and the stats are readily available for all fans to study and critique.

What the fans do not see, and what they rarely consider, is how our student-athletes compete in the classroom. Most of our 931 student-athletes must prepare themselves for careers in something other than their sport.

This past year, our University of Michigan student-athletes had an academic performance that was one of the best in our history, highlighted by:

  • Six Academic All-Americans
  • 237 student-athletes honored as Academic All-Big Ten
  • 447 department awards given to individuals who had 3.0 cumulative GPAs or two consecutive terms above a 3.0 GPA
  • 55 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars with a cumulative academic year GPA of 3.7 or better

Each category was an improvement over last season and showcased the importance our students are placing on their education here at U-M.

While our student-athletes have earned well-deserved recognition for their successes, our Academic Success Program (ASP) team should get its share of the kudos for helping create an environment for U-M student-athletes to thrive and succeed in the classroom.

Our academic counselors have not only been emphasizing and promoting the importance of each student-athlete working to achieve the highest possible level of academic performance, they are encouraging students to pursue postgraduate scholarships and professional schools, always highlighting opportunities beyond sports. The goal is not to just "earn a degree." It is about counseling our student-athletes to look at their four-year experience at U-M as one important piece of the puzzle that will shape their life and career.

There is an expectation created by our entire academic support team that filters down to all U-M student-athletes to create an academic focus and pursue high levels of academic achievement.

Michigan Professional and Career Transition (M-PACT) is a program developed to assist freshman student-athletes from their first steps on campus to explore and determine what they will be doing four or five years from that day.

For high-achieving student-athletes like softball Academic All-American Nicole Sappingfield, her freshman year was critical -- and so was M-PACT. Not only did she learn to participate in study table, counselors helped her seek out more challenging courses and accept more support from the entire academic team. Through all four years, she worked to improve herself in the classroom to be prepared for law school on the day she graduated.

This focus on career preparation ensures that academics will remain a priority. For our U-M student-athletes to have this career preparation, being a world-ready graduate is the goal of the program. Michigan Athletics is taking the M-PACT program to the next level thanks to the investment of our donors who see the importance of this work. We recently announced the creation of our Center for Leadership Development and Career Preparation that will provide even more programs and support for our student-athletes to prepare them for their lives after athletics.

Our junior and senior student-athletes set the tone. They create a culture of high expectations for achievement in the classroom and generate an energy that motivates us all.

The Stephen M. Ross Academic Center is a welcoming but productive facility where learning, not socializing, is the main focus. Student-athletes arrive at the Academic Center to achieve certain specific objectives in their course work.

Our Academic Success Program team is no different than any of our athletic coaching staffs. They also coach and teach the importance of high levels of performance to achieve meaningful goals. They are with the student-athletes from the start of their freshman year through many long nights, building success piece by piece.

Kudos to our Academic Success Program team and our Wolverine student-athletes on a championship season!

Go Blue!

Michigan's 2013-14 Capital One Academic All-Americans

Connor Jaeger, Men's Swimming (At-Large First Team)
Nicole Elmblad, Women's Basketball (Second Team)
Nicole Sappingfield, Softball (Second Team)
Kiley Tobel, Women's Cross Country/Track & Field (Second Team)
Mason Ferlic, Men's Cross Country/Track & Field (Third Team)
​​Courtney Beidler, Women's Swimming (At-Large Third Team)

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