MADISON - It’s been mentioned as a reason since the day he left, but former University of Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen finally gave confirmation that a significant reason why he’s now at Oregon State was the admissions policy in Madison.
In a CBSSports.com article
, Andersen said that he promised certain kids that they would get admitted and several times that ended up not being the case.
"I think they did what they were supposed to do [academically] and they still couldn't get in,” Andersen told Dennis Dodd. “That was really hard to deal with."
In just three recruiting cycles, including the class of 2015, Andersen and Wisconsin lost at least six players – JUCO safety Donnell Vercher, nose tackle Craig Evans, defensive end Rohan Blackwood, wide receiver Chris Jones, linebacker Mohamed Barry and offensive lineman Sam Madden -- that had verbally committed to them, all due to academics.
The most recent de-commitment came from Madden this past Sunday. In an interview with MaizeNBrew.com
, Madden’s father, Dave, said Wisconsin assured him early in the process that if the New Jersey product achieved a certain grade point average (GPA) that he would be admitted. But when Dave Madden reached out to UW to find out when his son’s acceptance letter would be coming, he got a big surprise. New coach Paul Chryst told him it would be a long shot for him to be admitted.
"I went through the roof because we had been absolutely led down a path. We were asked to be loyal and not take any other official visits," Dave Madden told the website. "I was out of the country when I got the call and was traveling all week, so I couldn't even tell Sam until (last Saturday) and that was very upsetting because we felt we were betrayed.
"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.'"
The problem of getting students admitted is a fairly new one. Current Athletic Director Barry Alvarez, who coached the Badgers for 16 seasons, and former coach Bret Bielema, rarely had issues getting players into school. Some say the roadblocks Andersen ran into were the result of an increase in the academic standards.
"I think it got to the point where the [Wisconsin] academic criteria definitely had shifted gears," Andersen told Dodd.
His former boss disagreed.
"We haven't changed," Alvarez said. "You're not going to change our admissions policy here. You're not going to change our academics here. ... All you have to do is check our track record."
Alvarez told Dodd that the admissions office will work with coaches but won’t compromise the academic integrity of the university to get players in.
In rebuilding the Utah State football program, Andersen stocked his team with junior college players, guys that for one reason or another – usually academics – couldn’t get admitted to the school out of high school. In 2012, his final season with the Aggies, Andersen had 29 junior college players on the team. That same year at Wisconsin there was not a single junior college player on the roster.
While it remains unclear how or if the standards at Wisconsin increased, the fact remains that only one school – Michigan – requires more than the 17 high school units that UW does to gain admission.
"That's not Wisconsin's fault," said Andersen, who was able to get three JUCO kids admitted during his time. "That's Wisconsin's deal ... I want to surround myself with those kids I can get in school."