Michigan: Brandon Resigns, Hackett Interim AD

Michigan President Mark Schlissel officially announced the resignation of athletic director Dave Brandon Friday. Schlissel appointed Jim Hackett as the interim AD with the plan moving forward to hire a permanent athletic director.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The Dave Brandon era at Michigan is over.

Inside a packed Regent’s Room at the Fleming building on the campus of the University of Michigan Friday afternoon, school President Mark Schlissel made the announcement official after weeks of rumors and meetings.

Brandon is out as Athletic Director at Michigan.

“This morning I accepted the resignation of Athletic Director David Brandon,” Schlissel said. “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 and allowed the important work of the department and university to continue without daily distractions.

“And I agree with this decision.”

With student, fan and alumni uproar ongoing and focused squarely on the job Brandon was doing within the Michigan athletic department, and of course the football program, Schlissel added he has had increased communication with the now former Michigan athletic director recently.

“I have spoken regularly with Dave over the last few weeks, and we both want what is best for Michigan Athletics, which is to be able to pursue the highest levels of excellence in all aspects of our programs, to support our 931 student-athletes, and to enhance the strong bond that athletics has helped the university foster with our students, alumni, and fans.

“I believe Dave has always had the best interests of the University of Michigan in his mind and his heart. He is fiercely dedicated to all of our student-athletes, regardless of their sport or their background. During his nearly five years as our AD, he worked to ensure their well-being and their academic and athletic success, with programs and facilities that helped them grow as individuals and teammates and to succeed as students.”

Given the major financial increase in the athletic department’s budget during Brandon’s tenure and the many positives to come in various capacities, Schlissel thanked Brandon for his dedication.

“For many years, Dave's commitment to Michigan has touched many other parts of the university as well. He co-led the campaign that raised funds for the construction of the new C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, and he and his wife, Jan, personally donated $2 million towards the creation of a neonatal intensive care unit. Dave has also provided support for the arts on campus, for student scholarships and for many other academic and educational priorities.

“Dave also served on the Board of Regents from 1999-2006. And of course Dave's first connection to U-M was as a student-athlete himself, when he played football under Coach Schembechler and earned his undergraduate degree. There is no doubt that Dave loves the University of Michigan, and he wants to see us move forward and succeed. I thank him for his long service and lifelong commitment to Michigan.”

Now left with a significant opening as the head of the athletic department, Schlissel announced the insertion of Jim Hackett as interim AD.

“The interim appointment is effective immediately and would become formal with approval by the Board of Regents at their next meeting,” Schlissel said.

“Jim is a highly experienced and respected business leader, a man of integrity, and a devoted member of our Michigan community. He was a student-athlete and graduated from U-M in 1977.”

Hackett’s business success is impressive and complex.

From 1994 to 2013, Hackett served as chief executive office of Steelcase Inc., a now global company, and also currently serves on the board of trustees at Northwestern Mutual Life, the board of directors of Ford Motor Company, and Fifth Third Bancorp.

Hackett is a former teammate of Brandon at Michigan and is currently on the board of advisors to Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and Life Sciences Institute.

The interim title is important to note, as Schlissel also pointed out Michigan will begin a search for the next long-term athletic director.

“I am confident that Jim will immediately begin the process of moving the department forward, including working closely with me to develop a plan to identify and recruit Michigan's next permanent athletic director.”

Schlissel finished his opening statement Friday by sending personal messages to students, alumni and fans alike, noting many voices have been heard and appreciated.

“Recent events have only reinforced my belief that it is important to listen to and engage in dialogue with all of our stakeholders. It is clear that Michigan Athletics helps unite us as a community.

“It has an enormous reach, but I have seen first hand that the connections it fosters are deeply personal. These connections cross-state and national borders, they span decades, and they are shared up and down through the generations.

“And the force that has this amazing power to join us together — the connective tissue if you will — is the heartstrings of the Michigan faithful.”

Student protests including a large gathering on the lawn of President Mark Schlissel over the last month clearly triggered a nerve for the Michigan community and Schlissel himself.

Schlissel went out of his way to bring up the fireside chat he had with students and those representing that faction at the University, specifically one female student with a permeating message.

 “She had lived in a major city in another state, but she could always count on hearing "Go Blue" when she walked down the street wearing her Michigan sweatshirt on a Saturday morning in the fall,” Schlissel said.

“Those moments — those uniquely Michigan moments — take place because of our strong sense of community, and before I turn it over to Jim, I invite everyone in our community to help us as we begin a new chapter in the wonderful history of Michigan Athletics.

“I hope we can join together as we move forward to preserve and enhance the qualities that make us truly special, for the ultimate benefit of Michigan Athletics, our students, and our great university.”

Jim Hackett New AD

Following the lengthy and all encompassing statement from school president Mark Schlissel, now interim athletic director at Michigan, Jim Hackett, took the podium to first thank Brandon.

“First, I’d like to thank Dave Brandon for his commitment to Michigan,” Hackett said. “The athletic department is in great financial condition, we have new varsity sports that will continue to make Michigan a destination for aspiring student-athletes, and Dave worked extremely hard to modernize Michigan’s athletic facilities.”

As Michigan’s football team prepares to host Indiana at Michigan Stadium Saturday afternoon, Hackett called on everyone to unite in support of the Wolverines.

“As we gather for homecoming weekend and honor our shared history, I hope fans, former players, students, my fellow alumni, can come together in support of our team,” Hackett said. “This is a time for alumni to remember what has been special in their lives at this University.

“The University is here for students. They’re not just temporary residents of the big house, rather, it’s their house. We’re first here for them. Michigan has a stellar record of extraordinary performance academically and as I mentioned athletically, and our potential is just unquestioned here.

“I’m humbled to help during this transition period to keep our momentum going as a great institution, and let me add my own go blue.”

Message to Michigan Family

As President Schlissel wrapped up his lengthy statement Friday, he spoke directly to many groups of the Michigan community.

“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.

“To our students and student-athletes, I want you to know that the University of Michigan is behind you, always.

“To our fans, I want you to know that we value your support, your input, and your spirit.”

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