ANN ARBOR, Mich. — As Michigan’s athletic director, Warde Manuel had a significant decision to make earlier this summer: Whether or not to reinstate Grant Perry to the football program.
On Aug. 11, Michigan announced that decision: Manuel did reinstate Perry. On Wednesday, Michigan’s second-year athletic director described the process in detail when he met with media members.
“We did a thorough review and made sure we were looking at everything, from Day 1,” Manuel said. “Coach [Jim Harbaugh] made the right call by knowing about it, even before it got out publicly, on the suspension. We talked that day. We had monitored the situation. He missed three games during the year and there was communication between me and others on campus, as it related to what was going on.”
Manuel said he had “multiple conversations” with university president Mark Schlissel, with Michigan’s office of student affairs, with the school’s department of public safety and with Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh and members of the school’s athletic department.
Manuel said Perry was a “model citizen” during his suspension, which came following Perry’s arrest in October after he was accused of grabbing a woman in a line outside a bar in East Lansing, Mich., then accused of subsequently resisting arrest. Perry pleaded guilty to one felony count of resisting a police officer and one misdemeanor count of assault and battery in June.
Earlier this month, the Ingham County (Mich.) Circuit Court sentenced Perry to one year of probation and 60 hours of community service.
“I support Warde and his decision,” Harbaugh said earlier this month, after the athletic department announced Perry’s reinstatement. “It was never a good situation from the very beginning. None of us liked it, that one of ours was in a situation like that.”
The next step for Manuel and his athletic department is to make sure another athlete at Michigan isn’t in the same predicament, or in any similar predicament.
Manuel chose his words carefully, but said Michigan educates members of its athletic teams in regards to sexual assault training, the expectations the athletic department has for its programs and athletes, and how they are expected to conduct themselves as representatives of their teams and athletic departments. That involves Laura Blake Jones, the dean of students, and Jones’ staff meeting with football players to educate them on those expectations, and to train them not just to be bystanders.
“To know how to deal with, to stop, to know what they’re responsible for doing, in terms of their behavior,” Manuel said. “The types of conversations, the types of interactions they’re supposed to have.”
This also includes sexual violence prevention training for coaches and athletic teams, mandated earlier this month by the NCAA.
Brenda Tracy, a rape survivor who travels the country sharing her story and experience, visited campus earlier this week to speak with athletes from various teams. Manuel said Tracy plans to meet with the football team in September.
“It’s a serious piece of what we do,” Manuel said. “And it has been, for a long time. I can’t speak for everything that happened that in the past but we do not, at all, take it lightly.
“We do not want student-athletes involved in any environment where they don’t feel safe. We want to make sure, from the bystander training, that they speak up, that they communicate and that they almost, in many respects, self-police each other as to what’s appropriate to say and not to say. And do.”
Here’s more of what Manuel discussed when he met with media members Wednesday afternoon at the Crisler Center:
On Michigan hosting potential night games in 2017
“There’s no update at this point in time. We won’t know [the decision on] the two potential games that we could have this year as prime-time games, Michigan State and Minnesota. By the contract, between the conference and our television partners, we would have to know 12 days [minimum] in advance, but haven’t heard anything, at this point.
“They could let us know three weeks before, but they have to let us know 12 days before the game would occur, whether or not it would be a prime-time game. It could be, if they don’t make it a prime-time game, we could have to wait up to the six-day window to know if it’s a noon or a 3:30 start.
“The staff is currently planning, throughout the university, we’re all planning as if those games would be selected, and we have plans in place of those games should those be prime-time games. With the new television contract we’ve agreed to hosting up to two [night games] in one year and up to three in a two-year period.”
On whether Michigan will sell alcohol at sporting events
“Off the board at this time. Everybody is looking at ways for a fan experience, for the culture of their universities to adapt and adjust. We hear from fans that some fans would like if we sold beer in our facilities. It’s a part of when they go to professional venues, when they go there.
“Culturally, it hasn’t been here. Right now, it’s not something that we’re promoting or pushing, in terms of generally having conversations about it. I’m aware of what others are doing. I’m aware of what some of my colleagues in the Big Ten and around the country are doing, and the revenue that is being derived. But right now, it’s not something I’ve requested or made a push for, for our presidents and board to consider, at this time.”
On Michigan’s football team’s alternate uniforms in 2017
“I don’t get into what uniforms are worn. I don’t. That’s up to my coach and for him and the way he wants the selection with the team.
“Uniform tastes nowadays, with all the different uniforms the teams wear nowadays, I don’t know if there’s a traditional standard across the board anymore. If Jim [Harbaugh] decides to wear alternate uniforms, the team will look great. They’ll go out and play well, like they play in our more traditional uniforms. Uniforms have nothing to do with the way that we play. I’ve worn uniforms of different results. More winning than losing, thankfully. But uniforms don’t make you win or lose.”