UM's Beilein puzzled by Burke's 'jail food' remarks

James Hawkins
The Detroit News
Michigan coach John Beilein, here taking a photo with a pack of young Wolverine fans following Tuesday's open practice at Crisler Center, was surprised by former player Trey Burke's complaints about food served to Wolverines.

Ann Arbor — Former Michigan basketball star Trey Burke racked up the accolades and enjoyed plenty of success in two seasons as a Wolverine.

But Burke apparently wasn’t too fond of his student-athlete experience off the court.

During a panel discussion in Washington on Monday, Burke expressed his distaste with the meals at Michigan and said he was ill-prepared for professional life.

The panel discussion — which also featured former Duke and Detroit Country Day star Shane Battier, Old Dominion coach Jeff Jones and Atlantic 10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade — centered on the state of NCAA basketball and its treatment of student-athletes.

Burke, now a point guard with the Washington Wizards, talked about how college programs can better prepare student-athletes and changes he feels should be made, such as compensation beyond tuition and housing. He said one reason student-athletes need money is to purchase their own food, explaining he was accustomed to his mom's cooking and didn’t like the “jail food” provided at Michigan.

Burke also said the program knew he was “checked out” and going to turn pro following his sophomore season, a reason the school should have helped prepare him for handling finances, budgeting and investing.

Michigan coach John Beilein was caught off guard by Burke’s comments.

“I talked to him (Monday night). I think we’re both disappointed in the way it came out,” Beilein said following Michigan’s open practice Tuesday at Crisler Center. “During the times that he was here, I ate lunch with him. I eat lunch and I eat breakfast with the players not often, but I did this morning. I had the most wonderful omelet with feta, spinach, tomatoes. It was incredible, made to order for me.

“But I think that if we’re comparing breakfast to his mother’s, it probably wasn’t as good as his mother’s. We have had very few complaints, if ever, about the food.”

Michigan senior guard Derrick Walton Jr. takes a picture during "selfie night" with three young fans following Tuesday's open practice at Crisler Center.

Beilein added that some of what Burke said was taken out of context as he was trying to make points for all student-athletes, although some may have been germane his experiences.

“I think a lot has changed in those four years,” Beilein said. “We had no cost of attendance at that time. Now, our kids get a nice extra check every month for the cost of attendance. Their food is almost unlimited as part of the training food. A lot has changed and I think that it’s very good for the student-athlete.”

Burke averaged 16.9 points, 5.7 assists and 3.3 rebounds in 73 games at Michigan. In 2012-13, he led the Wolverines to the national-championship game and was the consensus national player of the year.

He was the No. 9 overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft and spent his first three seasons with the Utah Jazz, averaging 12.1 points, 4.2 assists and 2.5 rebounds in 210 games, before being traded to the Wizards in July for a 2021 second-round pick.

Meet and greet

Roughly 1,200 fans attended Michigan’s third annual open practice and “Selfie night” on Tuesday, and Beilein was one of the main attractions, taking an estimated 180 photos. Beilein said the goal of the event is to help grow the program’s relationship with its fans and community.

“It’s been a mission of ours since I been here to just connect with our many fans, whether they’re students, whether they’re people who are just Michigan fans,” Beilein said. “The smiles on their faces and getting them to meet our players is one of the biggest things.

“You can’t sit back and say, ‘Hey, come to our games.’ We want to put our kids in front of them because we’re proud of them.”

The one-hour practice featured Beilein giving instruction and explaining drills to the crowd while mic'd up, and it ended with a full-court, 5-on-5 scrimmage.

UM ahead of MSU?

In Sports Illustrated’s Big Ten basketball preview, Michigan is projected to finish fourth in the conference with a 10-8 record, ahead of No. 5 Michigan State and behind Wisconsin, Purdue and Indiana.

Senior Zak Irvin also is projected to earn second-team all-conference honors.

“Our projections expect Irvin to positively regress to the mean,” SI’s Luke Winn wrote. “He was sidelined for multiple months with a back injury in the summer and fall of 2015, and it dragged down his junior-year efficiency. The Wolverines also have two of the league’s most valuable offensive role players in junior sharpshooter Duncan Robinson and forward Mark Donnal.”