University confirms start of search for new athletic director
The University will launch a search immediately for a permanent Athletic Director, and Jim Hackett, who currently holds the position on an interim basis, does not wish to be considered for the position, officials confirmed Wednesday. The Detroit Free Press first reported the news Tuesday night.
University president Mark Schlissel will chair the search committee for the new Athletic Director, and the University has hired Turnkey Search, a subsidiary of Turnkey Sports and Entertainment, to assist with the search process. Though the process will begin immediately, Schlissel said in a press release he does not have a specific timetable for making the hire.
Hackett, who was appointed interim Athletic Director on Oct. 31, 2014, will remain in office until Michigan finds a permanent replacement and will assist Schlissel on the search committee.
Six people will join Schlissel and Hackett: Schlissel’s special counsel Liz Barry, softball coach Carol Hutchins, women’s soccer player Corinne Harris, chief financial officer Kevin Hegarty, faculty athletic representative Anne Curzan and Dr. Stefan G. Humphries, a former football player and the current medical director at a hospital in Reno, Nevada.
In 13 months on the job, Hackett has made waves around the Athletic Department. Most notably, he inked Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh to a seven-year contract worth roughly $5 million annually, not including incentives, in December 2014. Harbaugh has led the Wolverines to a 9-3 regular-season record in his first year at the helm.
Hiring Hackett, in light of former Athletic Director Dave Brandon’s resignation, was one of the first major administrative decisions University President Mark Schlissel made after assuming the presidency in July 2014. In interviews with the Daily, Schlissel has expressed his appreciation for Hackett, saying his selection has led to a period of stability for a department fraught with controversy throughout Brandon’s tenure.
Hackett also earned praise from around campus when he penned an open letter to Michigan football fans in the wake of the Wolverines’ last-second loss to Michigan State on Oct. 17, disparaging fans who sent angry messages to Michigan punter Blake O’Neill after his botched punt attempt led to a game-winning Spartans touchdown as time expired.
In a September interview with the Daily, Schlissel declined to outline a plan for filling the position.
“I’m not prepared at the current time to lay out a longer-term game plan,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of stuff we’re doing right now. You know with the football program, when the head coach changes, the whole program changes.”
Managing News Editor Sam Gringlas contributed reporting.