After being arrested on suspicions of drunk driving May 8 and consequentially being suspended from his post as associate athletic director for football on May 13, Jim Minick felt that resigning was the natural next step.
Interim Athletic Director Jim Hackett disagreed.
“Jim Minick submitted his resignation and I refused it,” Hackett said. “This is a man who served seven tours of duty (in the Marines). Selflessness is a way I would describe him. He got thousands of emails, most of them from people who served in war with him, urging him to soldier through this.
“He and I had deep conversations about it, and I was convinced this is a guy who will learn from this mistake.”
On the night of his arrest, Minick crashed his vehicle into a ditch on Airport Boulevard and State Street just south of Ann Arbor. The 51-year-old refused a breathalyzer test at the time, but blood tests would later reveal his blood-alcohol content level was 0.185, well above the legal driving limit of 0.08.
Minick, a lifelong friend of Jim Harbaugh who was one of the coach’s first hires at Michigan and even teamed up with Harbaugh to assist two women in a car accident in March, pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle while intoxicated and refusing a breathalyzer test on June 24. He received eight months of probation and a $1,325 fine.
“He made a life terrible mistake,” Hackett said. “He dealt with something that can kill people. People die, either himself or others, from what happened. So the gravity of it was not dismissed at all.”
Despite the resignation offer, Hackett felt Minick could improve after his mistake. Even after Harbaugh — who was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in 2005 — requested Hackett take a second look, Hackett saw an opportunity for improvement
“(Harbaugh) wanted to make sure he was being objective,” Hackett said. “The coach has no margin for error in judgment when people understand they’ve gotten a break, and now they have to prove their commitment. We’ve got a really tight alignment on what the standard is moving forward.
“You have one of two ways you can go, you either get manipulated by people who make mistakes and they can con you into being compassionate,” Hackett said. “If you’re compassionate, you get people who unexpectedly are surprised by that and then they become better employees.”
So far, outcry about Hackett’s decision has been minimal. The interim athletic director has received three letters expressing disapproval, but Hackett has responded to all three letters with the same justification.
“We deal compassionately with people who make mistakes, we’re not setting different standards,” Hackett said. “(It’s) more about what I need to do to get him back on his feet. This is not a guy who has had a serial problem, and even then I would’ve given him a deep consideration, but that’s not the narrative here. This is a one-time mistake that was made.”