At the risk of engaging a number of trolls and reactionaries....
I think a great many comments here miss the mark. The immediate anger expressed by 1Ls seems to be that they're upset that they're part of a bad class. But the deception regarding the numbers doesn't change that. This is a particularly difficult year for a number of law schools. Applications are down almost universally, many by double-digit percentages. Schools are trying to maintain or improve the statistics for their incoming class. Sometimes, those efforts fall short. Illinois is a public school in a state with one of the most significant financial crises in the country--I think they were having trouble cutting checks to the university to pay the bills at some point. Perhaps scholarships were trimmed. And then the yield wasn't what admissions wanted. It happens. Perhaps not usually so notably, but it happens.
That, in turn, may lead to a drop in the U.S. News rankings. But it's the hilarious absurdity of TLS, among other sources, that continues to drive the pressure for deans to fudge the number (not saying it's justified, and see below). 10 years ago, Illinois had medians substantially below 163/3.7. But, really, has anything changed from this year's incoming class? The numerical medians of GPA and LSAT have declined. Has the law school brought in fewer individuals with work experience? Fewer women? Fewer minorities? Fewer undergraduates from elite institutions? Fewer engineers or accountants? Will practitioners in Chicago interview fewer Illinois students in 2012? Will Prof. Leiter think that Illinois's scholarly reputation has diminished?
Of course not, or presumably not. At a micro level, there was a problem with admissions this year. But it doesn't indicate any problems at the macro level. Does it? Can you indicate something substantial?
Instead, Illinois will continue to be among the top ten schools for placement in Chicagoland. It will have the third or fourth strongest statewide reputation. Its graduates will obtain employment at comparable rates as previous years, depending on the national economy.
When I think back to all the kinds of "problems" that arise from U.S. News rankings debacles, it's only a few that occur by rank mismanagement (and some that continue to this day, but shall remain nameless)--inability of deans to fundraise, to retain high quality faculty, and so on.
The University of Houston experienced a couple of years of drops, from around 50 to around 70 or so, and its dean was forced to resign because of the kind of short-sighted, narrow, simplistic outcry prompted here. (And there were actual drops, not projected like here--and there are, of course, many schools that experience one-year drops, like George Washington to cite recent memory; and many that experience one-year jumps, like Indiana, again.) It was a couple of years of drops in the U.S. News rankings. Rabid detractors, foaming at the mouth, called for her resignation.
Houston has returned to something in the mid-50s. But, of course, in that time, nothing particularly changed. Houston employers still highly valued Houston graduates; there was no serious turnover in faculty or change in scholarly reputation; Texas bar passage remained similar. Nothing tangible affected the students.
Not to say that the U.S. News rankings are meaningless. They're not. But interpreting them, like some are suggesting, in this light (and, by proxy, interpreting a one-year drop in LSAT and GPA medians in this light) is misguided, in my view.
The deception, of course, may run deeper. And the deception is symptomatic of a number of issues running across higher education generally. And the deception is not something I condone. The ABA and AALS have rooted out this kind of deception before, and they'll continue to do so. Perhaps less effectively than one would prefer.
But, for all of you 1Ls creating monikers to half-heartedly suggest you'd drop out, cool it. And you people speculating about what employers do have no clue how a hiring committee at an NLJ250 firm looks at the world.