Michigan president Mark Schlissel and interim athletic director Jim Hackett met with the media on Wednesday via teleconference to discuss the search of a permanent athletic director for the university.
Below is a transcript of the teleconference.
On whether a strong business background is a requirement for the job:
Schlissel: I'm looking for the best person for the job. Obviously having relevant experience is important predictor of success at any job but I'm approaching this search with quite an open mind. The athletic program is a 150 millon enterprise, it's a complex enterprise. It requires somebody with business, accounting and leadership skills and experience. But it's also a student athlete, coach and athletic competeition enterprise operating in the NCAA and Big Te... Obviously experienced and organized in division one athletics is also a big component of a persons potential success. The bottom line is that we're going to hire a spectacular person to lead the program forward and there are many criterias that will have to apply and balance.
On whether Hackett considered staying on permanently:
Hackett: It's a question that Kathy asked me, my wife, so the thoughts were that I was keeping all of this to myself. Part of the way I describe it, I tend to be an abstract thinker here so I apologize. There are kind of three circles of activity and influence in my life. Two of which existed before I took this assignment at Michigan. One is that I'm an active board member of three Fortune 500 companies. Two of which I've got a big leadership role in. The second thing was, my community in Grand Rapids and what I'd say areas of innovation that I've got a lot of interest in, I was beginning to start some initiatives. And, of course, the AD role. Now, what was interesting is, first of all the president was quite accomodating to me to allow those three circles at least the board one and the Michigan one to not get in conflict. The university was very helpful and the boards that I worked on were helpful. Everybody kind of gave something. My sense was to do this longterm, say five years, I need to rationalize those other two bubbles and I couldn't get myself to the point where all of those had a settled answer that made a full commitment to the President. That's not fair to Michigan nor him and I felt nothing but accomodation in terms of where I might take this. I can only offer to everybody, I was trying to be smart about it just like you'd expect us to be. I would also say its painful because the love story is real because it's not easy to have this circle kind of close in the way that I'm doing it now.
On whether a Michigan background will have an impact on this search:
Schlissel: I think having some connection with the university does have advantages but I wouldn't limit us to only looking at people who have had Michigan stories or connections. We want to find, as I said, the most talented and appropriate leader for this very important function within the university and a function that goes beyond the borders of the university. Although folks with Michigan ties I think have a bit of an advantage, it's certainly not an exclusion category.
On Jim Harbaugh's deferred compensation and whether Hackett will take care of it:
Hackett: That's a great question and the answer is yes. It's now, the great news is that I have a recommendation for President Schlissel, the regents that I believe everybody is really solid about. It's more of structure and we just have some legal assessments that we have to make about tax treatment and so on and so forth. But we aren't in any kind of conundrum about any kind of money or anything like that, we're just trying to put the details together.
On how much input search committee will take from Harbaugh and Beilein:
Schlissel: We'd like all coaches to have input. We've put a coach on the search committee itself to make sure that perspective is exceptionally well represented. Carol Hutchins our very long serving and highly successful softball coach is on the search committee. But we expect to reach out to all the coaches and of course we like both coaches Beilein and Harbaugh, along with everybody else, to be really confident in both the process and the ultimate decision that I make who to recommend to the regents. At the end of the day, it's my responsibility as University President, the position reports directly to me, I always solicit input from affected individuals.
On whether Hackett will remain as consultation after permanent AD is hired:
Hackett: Mark and I have talked about being available to help and of course. I'm just actually coming from a board meeting today and one of the things the business world teaches really high concentration of attention to is what we call succession planning. We're going through a succession here. In this specific case, we don't have a crisis, we don't have something that is forcing our hands to make a brash decision. We get to manage not only from a selection standpoint where you're hearing the rigor and due diligence but also the onboarding and kind of hitting the stride. I know how to do that without patting myself on the back, that's what I've done in the business world. I'm beginning to organize my thoughts for the President about how to onboard this person, what are the various steps that we'll go through. Picture, this person is going to have a lot of experience. Most of the onboarding is going to be around what's going on at Michigan and the different strategies that we have to make us world class.
On what Hackett is looking for in the next AD:
Hackett: I would stand behind President Schlissel's standard here. He involved me and others early in scripting the standards that we're looking for and I don't want to step on that. I can offer you insight, which is I just have tremendous respect now, a year later, for the complexity of the job. It's a very complex job given I think three forces. One, you have the nature of competition and what does it take for us to be at the top of our game no pun intended. The second is, we owe and we earn every day a relationship to the academics side of Michigan. It's spun together in one fabric and it requires, because of the standards we have at Michigan, a lot of concentration and consideration how that's always going to be in the forefront of our minds. And the third part is, which I think is relatively new to all on the phone, is the regulatory environment. The nature of the construct of college athletics, it's revenue streams, the rights of players and so on and so forth. This is all being shaped in a very profound way. When we look for this person, they're busy (laughs). They're very busy. It kind of explains why the pay of these folks have gotten near where you see in business because it's like an CEO role given the complexity I just described.