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Some Unsolicited Advice: Do Not Accept Unsolicited Advice

2012 May 20
by Randy H. Milgrom

While University of Michigan point guard Trey Burke has been deciding whether to return to school for his sophomore year or jump to the pros — where his draft prospects seem surprisingly brighter than I might have expected — Michigan State University Athletic Director Mark Hollis somehow believed it was appropriate for him to weigh in on Twitter with direct advice for Burke, a student-athlete from a rival school.

In less than 24 hours (one might question whether this is a fast or slow turnaround in TwitterWorld), Hollis admitted his mistake. But not before a fair amount of backlash, including an effective rejoinder from University of Michigan AD David Brandon.

First, Burke’s lament about unsoilicted advice: “EVERYONE got something to say… smh I thought this was my life!”

Then, Hollis’ direct tweet to Burke: “My advice, believe in YOUR heart & mind, everything else is interference. People u seek out is better than those that seek u.” Incredibly poor grammar aside, this is undeniably sound and apparently well-intentioned advice. But how is it possible that Hollis would have thought it was his place to comment about such an important, delicate, and ultimately personal matter — and in such a public forum, no less?

“If I had to do it all over again, I would’ve made it a general tweet,” Hollis admitted the following day in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “It was probably unfair to direct my message to one person going through a process that I think has failed a lot of student-athletes.”

Yes — but how about simply following your own advice and waiting to be approached before offering any. If Burke were to accept the advice you’re offering, you’d have him ignore it, right? Or am I mising something? If so, please tweet me. (It’s okay. I’m asking for it.) And by the way — you don’t have to do it again. You didn’t have to do it the first time.

Hollis and Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon have had what seems a friendly if not playful relationship, both on and off Twitter. But Brandon’s own Twitter advice to his in-state counterpart was pretty straightforward.

“Mark Hollis had good intentions-but made a mistake,” Brandon wrote. “Not appropriate to tweet one of our student-athletes. Won’t happen again. End of story.”

Hollis has acknowledged that he understands Brandon’s concerns, yet he continues to stand by his general message to anyone gathering information to determine whether to leave school early for professional sports: “My advice to anybody — our kids, anyone at Michigan, Ohio State, or anywhere else — is to reach out to people who will help you make a rational decision instead of listening to people reaching for you with their own agendas. I reacted in compassion to a tweet from what seemed like a frustrated athlete and not because of the rivalry we have with Michigan.”

And still not a word about the irony of offering unsolicited advice about not accepting unsolicited advice.

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