Our cousin to the south, Ohio, is blundering along this economic downturn in almost as dire a fashion as Michigan. Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland is about as inspiring as our Gov. Granholm, speaking of “new economy platforms” and other notions bureaucrats mutter about when they can’t figure out what to do. What a mess he's made of that state. And we say him because he is captain of the ship. This is the price of assuming leadership.
Still, Ohio has plenty to recommend, and we like the place. Some of it's newspapers are among the best in the U.S.
Lacking a formidable think tank with investigative abilities in the state, Ohio newspapers have done an excellent job of forcing transparency in government, most recently with the Columbus Dispatch taking on college athletics by sending open records requests to 119 schools. The requests asked for “airplane flight manifests for football-team travel to road games; lists of people designated to receive athletes' complimentary admission to football games; football players' summer-employment documents; and reports of NCAA violations.”
One school completely ignored the request. Who do you think that was? Michigan State University, creating the potential for another open records-related court case and costly litigation that taxpayers will have to cover.
Also noted is the openness of Eastern Michigan University, which responded promptly and provided records with no names redacted.
At any rate, the Dispatch has provided a terrific tool for check college athletic programs in terms of graduation rates, academic performance scores, athletic spending, NCAA violations, and how they scored in terms of openness when asked for public records.
MSU graduates 60 percent of its basketball players and 39 percent of its football players, compared to 74 percent of its overall student body. Michigan fails its basketball players prolifically, graduating 31 percent – the lowest in the Big Ten - as opposed to 88 percent of the general student population. There is plenty more information available in the database – have fun looking up your favorite school.