- Max Collins/Daily
By Kyle Swanson, Daily News Editor
Published January 5, 2010
Ending a two-month search, University officials announced yesterday morning that Domino’s Pizza chairman and CEO David Brandon will be the next athletic director.
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A search for Athletic Director Bill Martin’s successor began in October, when Martin — who has served as athletic director since 2000 — announced his intention to retire in September 2010. Though Martin won’t officially retire until Sept. 4, Brandon will begin his five-year appointment on March 8, pending approval from the Board of Regents at its Jan. 21 meeting.
When Brandon officially takes the reins on March 8, Martin will transition to a role as special advisor to the president until his retirement in September.
Despite his new role at the University, Brandon — who has served as Domino's CEO since March 1999 — will continue to serve as non-executive chairman for Ann Arbor-based Domino’s Pizza. His position on the board of directors will not require any day-to-day responsibilities at the company.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily yesterday, University President Mary Sue Coleman expressed her excitement about Brandon’s decision to accept the post of athletic director.
“This is a new era, and I think David Brandon really is positioned well for the challenges that we’re going to face in the future,” Coleman said.
Coleman said though there were many candidates vying for the position and others were nominated for it, she felt Brandon’s experience made him the right person for the job.
“Times are different now than they were when Bill took over,” Coleman said of Martin. “I think (Brandon) has a lot of management skills that, as the department has grown and it’s become more complicated, we’ll need to pull on.”
Consistent with the growing importance of financial management throughout the University’s administration, Coleman said she felt financial management would continue to be an increasingly important area of focus for the Athletic Department. She added that Brandon’s business background would enable him to handle the department’s finances well.
Coleman also said she was impressed with the responses Brandon gave during interviews for the job.
“One of the things that David talked about during his interviews was really quite intriguing — how to enhance our fan experience,” Coleman said.
“There are all sorts of things we need to be looking at for the future because people are going to have choices about what they do with their leisure time and we want to keep people connected to the University,” Coleman said, adding that athletics is a key way to keep people active in the University community.
Additionally, Coleman said she was impressed with Brandon’s desire to better align the Athletic Department with the University’s academic mission.
“We’re building pretty good bridges already, but we could strengthen those bridges,” Coleman said of the relationship between athletics and academics.
However, Coleman admitted that though she valued Brandon’s business savvy, it was ultimately his demonstrated ability to unite people behind a common purpose that impressed her most.
“I was very intrigued by that sort of quality that he has to bring out the best in people and move organizations forward,” she said. “That ultimately is what persuaded me that he could take those skills into the setting of intercollegiate athletics.”
Looking to the future, Coleman said she believes Brandon will be able to strengthen the University’s relationship with the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference.
“I’ve talked to him about my desire for him to become really engaged with the issues of the Big Ten conference and also at the NCAA,” Coleman said.