BY JIM WEBER
Daily Sports Editor
Published February 2, 2004
Be honest: How many of you still get Athletic Director Bill
Martin confused with the booster, Ed Martin? And even if you know
who Bill is, do you actually know what he does? A local businessman
who was begged by members of the Athletic Department to serve as
its director, Bill Martin didn’t walk into an easy situation.
The department was facing a tremendous amount of debt, and the U.S.
Attorney’s office was investigating the Ed Martin scandal. He
gave his first year’s salary back to the University and
doesn’t have a contract. “I work at the pleasure of the
President,” Martin said. In three and a half years on the
job, Bill Martin has moved past the basketball scandal and
eliminated the Athletic Department’s debt. But his job
isn’t done. Now he’s making sure the department’s
financial statement and facilities are set for the long term.
Defining an A.D.
If you think Lloyd Carr and Tommy Amaker have pressure-packed
and thankless jobs, check out how Bill Martin defines his work:
Source: The Sporting News
Running a Division I athletic program is hard work. It may be
the toughest job in all of sports. If you don’t think so,
check out this job description: Hire coaches who win; get kids to
go to class; put fans in the seats; play by the rules; go to the
big dance; make a bowl game; see to it that the athletes who stay
not only stay eligible, but graduate; sell T-shirts, radio time and
sponsorships; support a bunch of sports that generate no revenue at
all; guarantee women athletes the same opportunity to participate
as men; don’t tick off the NCAA; keep the students happy and
the faculty and the alums and the President and the Board of
Regents. Oh yes, make nice with reporters, too.
In response, Martin told The Michigan Daily: “At Michigan,
you can add two other critical job requirements to the description.
First, be totally self-sufficient, and second, fully fund all 25 of
your varsity sports so they have an opportunity to win at the
Pillars of success
Martin’s job pulls him in a million different directions
at once, but it all revolves around four very basic and important
Said Martin: “The four things I’m concerned with
are, one: academics. Second is ethical behavior of our coaches, our
administrators and our students. And by ethical behavior, I mean
being good citizens. Being a good citizen in my mind is
representing us in the classroom, in the community, as well as on
“The third one is, we have a winning tradition at
Michigan. I think we won somewhere around 385 Big Ten
Championships. (The second place school) is Illinois. Do you know
what the number is? Around 220. You need a telescope to see second
“So it’s academics, it’s ethical behavior,
it’s winning— winning the right way — and the
last one is being financially prudent.”
Former Athletic Director Tom Goss didn’t pass the baton to
Bill Martin smoothly — he chucked it at Martin’s feet.
The department was headed toward a $3-million debt after a Detroit
radio station went bankrupt and fell through on its contract with
the University. The Athletic Department introduced two new varsity
sports — women’s water polo and men’s soccer
— which cost the department $600,000 in the 2000-01 fiscal
year. Goss tried to bully Nike into a huge contract, instead of
handling negotiations delicately. Martin tried to put a new deal
together, but it fell through at the last minute. Instead of
getting paid by Nike, the University was forced to buy its
equipment from Nike for $760,000 in the 2000-01 fiscal year.
Goss fired basketball coach Steve Fisher after allegations of a
scandal, but left Martin with Fisher’s assistant, Brian
Ellerbe. In a time when communication about scandal was essential,
the Detroit Free Press reported that Athletic Department officials
reached an agreement with the NCAA over the eligibility of former
basketball player Jamal Crawford without consulting the
University’s attorneys. Former University President Lee
Bollinger forced Goss’s resignation on Feb. 9, 2000, and
named Martin interim Athletic Director a month later.
The name Ed Martin follows Bill Martin. When asked in the spring
of 2002 about the impact of Steve Fisher and the Fab Five on
Michigan, Bill Martin told the Detroit Free Press: “I think
they have left a wonderful legacy here. I'm pleased to see how over
time they are reacquainting themselves with our team. I see nothing
but the positives about that for the program ... I don't think (the
scandal) is a part of the legacy at all with them.”
Oops. Welcome to a living nightmare.
After years of turmoil, an NCAA investigation, a federal
investigation, a self-imposed ban, forfeited games, reimbursements
to the NCAA and NIT, an NCAA ban and an NCAA repeal, the Ed Martin
saga that lasted more than seven years has finally been removed as
Bill Martin’s top priority. It’s certainly still on his
mind, though. That much is obvious by the way he stresses
“ethics in the classroom, in the community, as well as on the
Martin sums up the importance of the scandal with a Michigan
alum’s quote that sticks out in his mind: “ ‘You
have devalued my Michigan degree.’ “
Said Martin: “Think about those words for a
Keys to green
Below is a list of the keys to Michigan’s financial
- Increased ticket prices
Football: increased $8 to $16 before the 2001 season.
Basketball: increased $2 to $3 before the 2000-01 season.
- Martin’s cost cutting
Instructed all coaches to take 7 percent out of their budget
(except for the three revenue sports — football, men’s
basketball and hockey).
Reduced number of senior administrative staff members.
Gave his first year’s salary back to University.
- Nike Contract
Seven-year equipment and licensing contract worth between $25
and $28 million.
Signed five-year deal in 2001 with Host Communications for
exclusive rights to football and men’s basketball, which
Martin said was worth about $1 million.
Said Martin: “You know, there is a culture that you have
to change: ‘Well, we have always done it this way.’ I
heard one person say to me when I came here that the philosophy at
Michigan athletics was, ‘If we need it, do it. We’ll
find a way to pay for it.’ Well, my philosophy is: ‘If
we need it, let’s find a way to pay for it first, and then we
will do it.’ We are not going to just do it and hope we will
find the resources.”
“So I did about a half a dozen things that turned us
around, and we turned around in about a year and a half. My second
year here, we went from roughly a $3 million deficit to a $4
million surplus. We just completed our last year with our largest
surplus in the history.”
With the Ed Martin scandal and the Athletic Department’s
deficit behind him, Bill Martin’s attention is squarely on
the department’s long-term financial health. Specifically,
Martin is in the process of adding and updating facilities. Here is
a look at some of his plans:
The skinny: This two-year project is scheduled to begin this
summer. It will cost $12 million, which will be funded privately
from Athletic Department gifts, resources and investment proceeds.
Located between the Marie Hartwig Building and Yost Ice Arena, the
center will be available to the 700-plus student athletes at the
University, as well as undergraduate and graduate students. The
Academic Center will be extremely convenient for athletes that are
currently required to attend study table at locations across
The skinny: Martin hopes to eventually replace The Fish
(baseball) and Alumni Field (softball) with new stadiums next to
the Varsity Tennis Center.
Fieldhouse: The skinny: The football team currently practices in
Oosterbaan Fieldhouse. But there’s a problem: The field
isn’t regulation size. As a result, Martin says that when the
team runs out routes, players go out of bounds. With the extra
space created by the move of baseball and softball, there will be
room for an extra fieldhouse.
Cristler practice facility
The skinny: This would be used by the basketball and wrestling
The skinny: Martin describes Michigan Stadium as
“functionally obsolete.” For evidence, he points to
Michigan’s game against Wisconsin during the 2002 season when
the showers in the Badgers’ lockerroom broke down.
“What an embarrassment,” Martin said. He adds that
aisles are too narrow, the lines are long, there aren’t
enough restrooms and it’s hard to get in and out of the
stadium. Martin is examining everything from seat licenses to
luxury boxes, or, as he calls it, “enclosed seating” to
pay for the remedies to these problems.