U of M AD condemns ‘vicious comments’ toward player

Michigan punter Blake O'Neill (12) walks off the field after an NCAA college football game against Michigan State in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s athletic director has released an open letter urging fans to avoid “thoughtless comments” after a punting mistake cost the Wolverines Saturday night’s game against Michigan State.

Jim Hackett does not mention punter Blake O’Neill by name, but it is clear he is concerned about what O’Neill might face on social media.

In his letter Sunday, Hackett writes of the “shocking reality” that the Michigan community would send “hurtful, spiteful and vicious comments” to one of its students.

He says such remarks from a “small minority” do not reflect the university. He adds that the “program I know at Michigan” is “about the team, the team the team.”

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The full letter:

Dear Michigan family,

This Saturday’s game continued to prove the progress that we are making in our football program.

This isn’t only the way I feel the morning after a sudden change of euphoria took us to a heartbreaking loss. I know that many feel this – we are proud of our kids.

I know that all of our friends believe in what they saw for nearly 60 minutes of that game. This team left nothing on the field but its best effort.

The quality of Michigan football filled the chilled air.

Today I awake to the shocking reality that our community who care so much about this program would send hurtful, spiteful and vicious comments to one of our students. To be clear, such comments come from a small minority, none of whom are reflective of our institution.

The program I know at MICHIGAN speaks about the team, the team the team. The people I have been associated with my whole life around this fantastic program – some whom are living and some whom have passed on – would never, I repeat never, spread blame.

As our head coach said yesterday, “…this outcome will steel our spine.”

That means all of us.

I’m asking that our community not lose this game twice by condoning thoughtless comments and remember the Fielding Yost comment that this is the “Michigan of ours.”

Go Blue

Jim Hackett

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