Sam Madden decommitment exposes UW’s admissions department issues

Over the weekend the Badgers lost a big piece of their 2015 class when high 3-star offensive lineman Sam Madden decommitted. However, it appears that this shock move wasn’t of his choosing and instead it had everything to do with Wisconsin’s academic department and what was told to the player.

To say the UW admissions department has egg on its face is an understatement, especially after Madden’s father spoke to Maize ‘N Brew about what took place and why Madden was moving on from the Badgers.

Madden’s father laid it out pretty simply in the article — Wisconsin’s coaching staff was told one thing about what he would need to do to be admitted and have since backed off that exact agreement.

“I got a surprise call from them on Tuesday. I reached out to them,” he said. “I’ve been in close contact the whole way. I knew Wisconsin was tough on academic standards, so when they asked us to commit, we went over Sam’s grades.

“And they came back and said academically you’ve got to have much higher grades, but he’ll be fine for June as long as he gets this GPA, so they sent that to us in writing. We have that. I called to ask when the Big Ten tender letter was coming and when he would get his letter of acceptance.”

That letter of acceptance never came, and it turned out that was because the admissions department suddenly changed their mind.

“I was blown away because throughout the process it’s been ‘no problem, he’s good as long as he gets these final grades,'” his father said in the article.

“We just got his final grades, and he’s gotten straight A’s for his senior year.”

Needless to say the family was not too happy…

“At the end of the day it boils down to this: The University of Wisconsin made him an offer and said ‘if you do this academically, you’re in here. Please commit to us, don’t take any other visits. We did everything we were asked to do. They lied to us and didn’t do what they said they would do.”

That last part should be very worrisome to the future of Wisconsin recruiting, as you can bet any issue will be exploited by teams trying to vie for the commitment of kids UW is recruiting.

Look, it’s awesome that the University of Wisconsin has a higher standard to get in and that it wants to be an elite academic institution. The problem is, the world and national rankings that come out each year have seen UW slip since the tougher standards have been implemented.

It’s equally troubling that a school puts in writing what needs to be done, the guy or gal overcomes a learning disability and gets straight A’s and suddenly it’s not good enough to get in to UW. What more proof does an admissions department need that a football player is taking his academic responsibilities seriously?

Does the University of Wisconsin really want to start going down this road on an annual basis? If so, Wisconsin’s ability to be an annual Big Ten power is going to decline rather quickly.

You can bet this is something that head coach Paul Chryst is aware of and was aware of when he took the job. You can also bet this is something that is going to be addressed by him so that another situation like this never happens again.

Let’s also be clear, no one is asking the admissions department to just allow anyone that wants to play football at the UW to do so. We aren’t saying let’s just accept every minimum qualifier that comes along. In fact, requiring more than the minimum standard is a good thing and should be applauded.

But, when you write up exactly what a student-athlete has to do to meet the standards to get in and he does that, you need to honor that commitment, just as the student-athlete is being asked to honor his or hers commitment too.

It’s time for that department to sit down and look itself in the mirror, because this isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last time unless something changes internally. Then again, it means some in that building actually have to care about honoring a commitment too.

What is also troubling is Wisconsin’s standards for athletes are higher than any institution not named Northwestern in the Big Ten. If Ohio State, Iowa, Penn State and other high quality institutions of higher learning can find a way to win with and graduate most of these borderline players, why can’t Wisconsin do the same?

Have your increased core classes, maybe say you can’t be a minimum NCAA qualifier, but to not take in to consideration the effort or any other outside forces really hurts the reputation of both the university and the football program as a whole.

Is that really what the university wants to have happen?

Hopefully this incident makes for some changes in the future. Unfortunately, it cost the Badgers big time in the here and now and the football program had zero control over that.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, 32flags.com as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10.com