I saw it with my own eyes. Last Friday, I watched University President Mark Schlissel take the podium in the Regents Room and announce he had accepted former Athletic Director Dave Brandon’s resignation. He also appointed former Steelcase CEO Jim Hackett as the interim Athletic Director — key word interim.
That got me thinking and actually pretty excited. As of right now, I don’t have any plans for next summer and should probably start working on internship and job applications sometime soon. The search process for the next athletic director hasn’t begun yet either and anything you see or hear on the news is just hearsay at this point. So before this opportunity slips away from me, I am officially announcing myself as a candidate for the Athletic Director position at the University of Michigan.
Before I get written off as unqualified, let me explain. Mr. Hackett, feel free to use this as a cover letter if it suits you.
At the press conference, Schlissel said the new athletic director must be “a person of unquestioned integrity, not just integrity to the level of NCAA rules.”
For starters, I’ve never allegedly e-mailed an alumnus passive-aggressively telling them to “have a happy life” or “stop drinking and go to bed.”
Second, one of my professors referred to me as a “great guy” in office hours. If those two examples don’t represent “unquestioned integrity,” I’m not sure what does. However, for those still unconvinced about my qualifications, please read on.
If you’re worried about my leadership skills, there’s nothing to fear. Six people have endorsed me on LinkedIn for “leadership,” and admittedly, I’m pretty proud of that. Small sample size, yes. But I know those people didn’t hesitate for a second when they hit the endorse button. That counts for something.
If you’re looking for someone who knows a thing or two about generating sales and building a brand, look no further. I have more than 530 followers on Twitter — although most of them think I play for the Denver Broncos. In the business, we call that a dedicated following. In my younger days, I ran some pretty successful lemonade stands. And I never once considered raising the price to maximize revenue because I didn’t want the community to lose faith in me. A 25-cent glass, now and forever. To top it off, I’ve never sold terrible pizza. I think that wins a few H.A.I.L. points.
Schlissel also mentioned that the next athletic director doesn’t have to have Michigan ties. He reiterated this point in an interview with the Daily on Monday, “I’m always open to the idea that someone from the outside might help us be even better. I just want to get the best person.”
Clearly, this is where I’m at a little bit of a disadvantage. I am a “Michigan Man” after all — if having a University e-mail account makes you one. However, I contend I would bring a nice balance to the Athletic Department.
First off, I never played for legendary football coach Bo Schembechler. In fact, I never played football. That being said, I’ve still succeeded in athletics. Though you might not be able tell by looking at me, I was an integral member of a championship basketball team in my hometown’s local recreational league — there were only seven players and my dad was the coach. For this, I am, and will always be, a winner. Sure, the last guy may have had three Big Ten championship rings, but I’m also confident I got more playing time than he did.
While I’ve never worked in an athletic department before, I’ve been to my fair share of football and basketball games. That should suffice. I’m also proficient in addition and subtraction so the budget stuff is no big deal. Also, in case you forgot, I’ve run a lemonade stand before. Can you say business experience?
I would bring a solid understanding of the student voice. Heck, when I want student input on an issue all I’ll have to do is think. No other candidate will be able to say that.
With that, I feel I’ve covered all the bases. I might be the “unorthodox” candidate, but that’s what the University needs right now: Someone who’s not afraid to tell it how it is and enact necessary change. Someone with vision and relevant experience.
Last Friday, when asked about what qualities he envisioned in the future athletic director, Schlissel responded, “I have excellence in mind.”
If that’s the case, and considering how the previous AD performed, then I must be the man for the job. Some might even say I’m overqualified. Just don’t forget I can’t start until the summer.
Academics come first.
Derek Wolfe can be reached at email@example.com.