Last month, Public Policy senior Craig Kaplan stood on the steps of University President Mark Schlissel’s house with a megaphone to help lead a protest to fire University Athletic Director Dave Brandon.
Now, he’s bringing his discontent to the Big House this Saturday, and he wants other students to join him.
With the help of a “very giving” donor, he hopes to distribute 2,000 custom-made white T-shirts that read, “We support the team, the team, the team. #FireDaveBrandon” to interested student organizations by Thursday evening.
The goal, Kaplan said, is for enough of the student section to wear the T-shirts to the Michigan football team’s game against Indiana that the message will be noticeable on TV.
“We support the team. That’s the crucial part,” Kaplan said. “We want to see the best for them. Dave Brandon is not the best for them. That’s the message we’re trying to get across.”
Though the donor prefers to remain anonymous, Kaplan said the alum was one of many to contact him after the Sept. 30 rally to fire Brandon. The donor was the most vocal about continuing the students’ momentum against the Athletic Director, according to Kaplan.
“The Athletic Department routinely deflects responsibility. You see that with the Shane Morris case, you see that with the Brendan Gibbons case,” Kaplan said. “(Brandon) has his priorities completely off the wall.
“I think everyone deserves the ability to have a second chance. Unfortunately, he’s on his fifth or sixth.”
Since the September protest, Brandon has made a concerted effort to improve relations between himself and students. The biggest move came last Thursday, when he announced the Athletic Department would lower student-ticket prices by 37.5 percent to $175 for the upcoming football season.
But Kaplan said he echoed the donor’s opinion that the move came too little, too late, and that Brandon had made several prior decisions that “ostracized” students.
“Dave Brandon is making a short-term gain for a long-term loss,” Kaplan said. “If the students are ostracized now, once you get out of college, what do you think is going to happen?”
Part of the inspiration behind Saturday’s planned protest is to encourage Schlissel to fire Brandon “before he has the ability to hire the next coach.”
“Leaving him in power to appoint the next coach will only continue the toxic environment that currently stands,” Kaplan said.