For a while, Monday afternoon’s protest to fire Athletic Director Dave Brandon wasn’t very much of one at all.
Yes, hundreds of people arrived at the diag for the 6 p.m. start time. Yes, several people brought posters criticizing the University’s handling of sophomore quarterback Shane Morris’ concussion suffered in the fourth quarter of the football team’s loss to Minnesota on Saturday. And yes, there were quite a few chants to “fire Brandon.”
But for the most part, the students milled around the Diag as reporters from numerous local and national outlets took photos and conducted interviews.
Then, Public Policy senior Craig Kaplan and a group of others had an idea: Move the protest to University President Mark Schlissel’s house nearby on South University Avenue.
And then it really got interesting.
Kaplan marched up the steps of Schlissel’s residence with a megaphone and began to address his peers.
“I love this University,” he yelled. “I love this football team. I love our sports. I do not love Dave Brandon.
“I am angry, as a student, as a fan, as a lover of Michigan football. I’m pissed. I am upset at how we have been treated, at our record and at the absolute mismanagement of this school’s Athletic Department under Dave Brandon.
“The fact that this rally is necessary — it says enough that the student body is upset enough to come together like this as a unified front to make changes that need to be made. …
“I am proud of Michigan’s history. I am proud of Bo Schembechler. I am proud of all the Michigan football players, basketball players, athletic directors and the people that come before us. I am proud of our history. I am not proud of Dave Brandon being part of that history.
“Come tonight, Dave Brandon should no longer be the Athletic Director of the University of Michigan.”
The crowd responded with its loudest chorus of the night of “Down with Dave.”
Schlissel, who sent a release to media earlier Tuesday apologizing for the Athletic Department’s handling of Morris’ concussion, did not make an appearance at the rally.
A University police officer standing on Schlissel’s lawn said he did not interfere with the demonstration because it was conducted peacefully.
But the protest wouldn’t have amounted for much of anything if not for Kaplan’s strong words.
“I’ve been a Michigan fan my entire life,” he said. “Michigan has a special place in my heart. The fact that it has been mismanaged like this, it really hurts me deeply as a student, as a fan — just as a person that cares about this state and cares about this University.”