Rick Osentoski, USA TODAY

Michigan President Mark Schlissel thanked interim athletic director Jim Hackett for his service, adding he'll be on the search committee.

Michigan President Mark Schlissel thanked interim athletic director Jim Hackett for his service, adding he'll be on the search committee.

While Michigan interim athletic director Jim Hackett will have the opportunity to ride off into the sunset, school President Mark Schlissel says it won't be before Hackett aids in appointing his successor.

Both Hackett and Schlissel made statements and took questions during a conference call Wednesday afternoon, confirming previous reports of Hackett's impending exit and role in the search to find a permanent athletic director at Michigan.

Hackett was hired on Oct. 31, 2014 to replace previous athletic director Dave Brandon who resigned amidst pressure from regents, alums and the student body.

In the time since, Hackett brought Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh in to be the next football coach in place of the fired Brady Hoke, offering stability with a lasting impact during a trying period for the University and the football program.

"What I wanted to make sure to do today was first to thank Jim Hackett," Schlissel said. "He stepped up at a challenging time in Michigan's athletic history or football program's history and his performance as interim A.D. has been absolutely stellar in every regard.

"Jim just doesn't do the right things, he does the right things, the right way. He's really been a tremendous leader, a colleague, he's grown to be a friend, and he's accomplished an extraordinary amount in a short period of time and I wanted to be sure that our community of people interested in Michigan athletics really do appreciate and value the job that Jim has done and continues to do." 

After several conversations between the two throughout the fall, Schlissel says with the football season coming to an end and the mid year break quickly approaching, the time appeared right to move forward with a national search for an athletic director.

Schlissel added he's already engaged in several conversations with alumni, regents and supporters of the program in order to get an idea of the best possible and ideal candidate for the position.

In Hackett, Schlissel will also have a valuable aid on the search committee, willingly serving the University throughout the process.

"His voice will be an important one, having lived and helped lead the athletics program," Schlissel said. 

"We'll rely on him pretty significantly for his expertise and his good judgement, and also for staying on and being committed to staying on indefinitely until we have a permanent successor in place, which allows us to do a very thoughtful, inclusive and methodical search so thanks very much to Jim."

The other high profile Jim in the Michigan athletic department is Jim Harbaugh, the man Hackett targeted and brought to Ann Arbor to take over a football team coming off a 5-7 season.

What Michigan was received was a 9-3 year and assuredly a spot in a substantial bowl game, playing for a potential spot in the Big Ten title game into the final week of the season.

For Hackett, working with Harbaugh has been a pleasure.

"What I'm mesmerized by is how much work Jim got done in a short amount of time," Hackett said. "From hiring a staff to transitioning a fifth-year quarterback to putting together a very competitive team.

"And even with the disappointment with this last loss all of us at Michigan believe we earned the right to be in that game based on the way we played. You couldn't ask for any more from one person.

"What I found in the one year working with him is he's truly an extraordinary talent in so many ways and I fell in love with that. I really enjoy working with him, I enjoy arguing with him, I enjoy thinking about the future of things together -- there's just no part that hasn't been extraordinary."

Hackett's focus now shifts to finding the right person to lead the athletic department into the future.

"I want to work really hard to the day when we transition," Hackett said. "I'm excited about that potential and happy to continue our discussion."


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