Just over 100 days into his tenure as U-M president, Mark Schlissel announced the resignation of athletic director Dave Brandon. Stepping in as interim athletic director is James Hackett, a 1977 U-M graduate and recently retired CEO of Steelcase.
The resignation comes after weeks of intense discussion among members of the U-M community about athletics in general and football in particular. This includes ticket prices, the “corporatization” of football, and the handling of quarterback Shane Morris, who was allowed to play in the Sept. 27 game against Minnesota despite having sustained an injury. Alumni have provided much feedback during the past few weeks, including several comments on the Alumni Association blog.
The national media also have shone a spotlight on these discussions. Schlissel said the resignation will allow the Athletic Department and the University to continue to do their work without daily distractions.
“Dave feels that it would be in the best interest of our student-athletes, the Athletic Department and the University community if he moved on to other challenges,” said Schlissel. “And I agree with this decision.”
Schlissel, who has been in regular communication with the Alumni Association about this issue spoke to the Board of Directors yesterday about the need to value alumni as stakeholders, not just customers of Michigan athletics.
Schlissel said he has spoken regularly with Brandon, athletic director since 2010, over the past few weeks about the direction of the department. He credited Brandon’s dedication to student-athletes, saying “he worked to ensure their well-being and their academic and athletic success.”
Brandon’s resignation comes as alumni are returning to campus for this week’s homecoming festivities and the game tomorrow between the 3-5 Wolverines and Indiana.
“To our alumni and others in the Michigan family, I want you to know that we are working to establish the right balance between academics, the competitiveness of our athletic programs, their financial stability, and the athletic traditions we hold dear.”
Brandon, a 1974 U-M graduate, former football player, and former regent, is succeeded in the interim by Hackett. “Jim is a highly experienced and respected business leader,” said Schlissel, “a man of integrity, and a devoted member of our Michigan community.” Hackett, a former teammate of Brandon when both played U-M football, expressed hope for the Athletic Department going forward.
“I hope fans, former players, students, and my fellow alumni can come together in support of our teams.”
Schlissel said he and Hackett will immediately work to develop a plan to identify and recruit the next permanent athletic director. “I’ll be looking for a person that prioritizes the welfare and the experience of our student athletes, a person of unquestioned integrity—not just integrity to the level of NCAA rules but integrity to the Michigan way of doing athletics. I’ll be looking for someone that appreciates the bond, the cultural aspects, of this great athletic program and what it does for our community. And I’ll be looking for somebody who wants to make the athletic program as tightly integrated a part of the overall University environment as possible.”