As Michigan begins to move forward in selecting a new athletic director, men’s basketball coach John Beilein has made it known he would be happy and willing to play a part in the selection process.
“I think it would be a wise decision to include coaches,” Beilein said, noting that the next athletic director will be the eighth of Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson’s career in Ann Arbor. “If I’m asked, I’d be very happy to be involved. But I’d have to be asked first.”
Following Dave Brandon’s resignation Oct. 31, University President Mark Schlissel named Jim Hackett, former Steelcase CEO and Michigan football player, interim athletic director. One of Hackett’s principal responsibilities, according to Schlissel, is to help facilitate a robust search-and-hire process to fill the position in the long term.
Ultimately, though, Beilein was disappointed by the announcement of Brandon’s resignation.
“Dave called me that morning to let me know,” Beilein said. “I was very disappointed, but he seemed to be in a good spot … and I know he felt strongly this was the best thing for the University of Michigan Athletic Department.”
Brandon’s resignation marked the end of a five-year tenure punctuated all too frequently by controversy, including the poor handling of quarterback Shane Morris’ concussion sustained Sept. 27, MGoBlog.com’s recent report that Brandon sent a spate of snappy, unprofessional emails to disgruntled fans and alumni, and The Michigan Daily’s report in January 2014 revealing that kicker Brendan Gibbons had been permanently separated from the institution for a violation of the sexual misconduct policy.
“Dave was such a strong leader for us all,” Beilein said. “All of a sudden, that dynamic changed overnight. Going forward, there’s got to be somebody in charge of this athletic department, because there are major decisions made every day.”
Beilein’s first impressions of Hackett fit in perfectly with his view of what the department needs out of an interim Athletic Director.
“Jim’s personality, right away, seemed to be a perfect fit for what we’re looking for to gap any time between now and when we hire our next athletic director,” Beilein said. “He called me and left me a long voicemail, and we spoke the next day in person. I really feel he’s a guy who’s going to be a great interim AD.”
Berenson, too, was impressed with Hackett’s credentials, and hinted at characteristics that he might value in a new athletic director.
“He’s like Dave Brandon,” Berenson told the Daily on Monday. “He’s a professional; he’s very accomplished; he’s got a great resume.”
And despite Schlissel’s indication earlier this week that a new athletic director wouldn’t need previous ties to the University, Berenson cited Hackett’s maize-and-blue background as a benefit. Like Brandon, Hackett played football under head coach Bo Schembechler.
“He comes out of Michigan,” Berenson said, “and he appreciates a lot of what we stand for here.”
Daily Sports Writer Erin Lennon contributed reporting.