BY HEATHER KAMINS
Published April 16, 2001
Sept. 3, 1997
Tom Goss, a California business executive and former Michigan defensive tackle, was the University"s first choice for athletic director four years ago.
But since Goss was unavailable, the job went to Joe Roberson, the man Goss will replace as the University"s ninth athletic director this fall. Sources close to the department said University President Lee Bollinger plans to announce Goss" nomination on Sept. 8.
Just days after Roberson publicly announced his intention to retire two weeks ago, rumors began circulating that Goss would lead the troubled Athletic Department.
If confirmed by the Board of Regents, he will be the University"s first black athletic director.
Percy Bates, who served on the athletic director search committee that chose Roberson, said Goss would have been hired four years ago if his professional situation at that time had not prompted him to drop out of the competition. Bates said that if Goss had not pulled his name out of the running, he would have been offered the position.
"Things did not get that far," Bates said. "He would have (been hired four years ago). I can say that unequivocally.
"I think it should be understood that in the previous search, Goss was designated as one of our excellent candidates."
Before the committee recommended a final candidate, the search was halted amidst controversy when former University President James Duderstadt handpicked Roberson to fill the position. Roberson, who was the University"s lead fundraiser at the time, was not even on the list of finalists when Duderstadt picked him to head the athletic department.
While Duderstadt was criticized for not accepting the advice of the search committee, Bates said Bollinger did not need to use a committee to find the best athletic director.
"If he was an excellent candidate then, I don"t think it is necessary to go through a completely new search," Bates said.
Former Athletic Director Don Canham said the Michigan defensive tackle was actually a front runner in two past University athletic director searches.
"Two different search committees zeroed in on Goss," Canham said. "Goss was among the top three in the search when I retired to take my place and he was in the top three four years ago."
Duderstadt said he wishes he could have enticed Goss to come to the University four years ago.
"I tried very hard to attract him to Michigan, but his own ongoing commitments made it impossible at that time," Duderstadt said. "He is an outstanding person, a strong business leader, with a good understanding of athletics. He has been involved with Michigan athletics throughout the years and he already knows a great many people in the program. I think he will do very well."
Canham said another search this year would have been redundant.
"He is a very dear friend of mine," Canham said. "He played football at the University when I was athletic director. He is a great guy and I think he will be a great athletic director."