By Alejandro Zuniga, Managing Sports Editor
Published October 31, 2014
University Athletic Director Dave Brandon has resigned from his position, University President Mark Schlissel announced Friday. After calls from students for Brandon’s removal and a tumultuous year for the Athletic Department, University alum Jim Hackett, a former teammate of Brandon and former CEO of Steelcase, a furniture manufacturing company, will serve as interim athletic director.
Schlissel added that Brandon said the decision is “in the best interest of student-athletes, the Athletic Department and the University community.”
In his statement to the media, Schlissel lauded Brandon’s contributions to the University community, outlining his involvement at the University from starting as a student-athlete to leading the department.
The former Domino’s Pizza CEO has been the subject of widespread criticism for decisions that many felt were made for financial gain and with disregard for the University’s supporters and alumni.
Those included — but were not limited to — rising ticket prices and the increased presence of advertisements during athletic events. Most recently, a promotion through Coca-Cola allowed fans to purchase tickets at what amounted to a 98-percent discount, while season-ticket holders were charged hundreds of dollars just to secure a seat license.
Brandon was named the University’s Athletic Director on Jan. 5, 2010. The following year, he fired former Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez, citing a failure to meet criteria including game performance, leadership, University image of the players and University image of the coaches.
On Jan. 11, 2011, Brandon hired Brady Hoke from San Diego State University. Hoke, now in his fourth year with the Wolverines, has failed to reach the Big Ten title game, and has failed to beat rivals Ohio State, Michigan State or Notre Dame on the road.
This fall, Hoke’s Wolverines have suffered historically poor results. They were shut out for the first time since 1984, surrendered the Little Brown Jug to Minnesota for the first time since 2005 and had three September losses for the first time ever.
The combination of a losing football team and an apprehensive fan base boiled over during the September 27 game against the Golden Gophers. Throughout the second half, the student section chanted for the University to “Fire Brandon.”
Despite diminishing public support, Brandon led a profitable Athletic Department that never reported a deficit. In June, he presented a budget to the Board of Regents that predicted a $5.2-million surplus for the 2014-15 fiscal year.
The gains were bolstered by events hosted at Michigan Stadium, including two hockey games and an exhibition soccer match.
Brandon’s vision included multi-million dollar renovations to revenue and non-revenue sports facilities, many of which have already been completed.
This story has been updated to include details from the press conference.