Embattled Athletic Director David Brandon resigned Friday from his post at the University of Michigan, according to an announcement at a 1:30 p.m. press conference led by University President Mark Schlissel.
“There is no doubt that Dave loves the University of Michigan and wants it to succeed,” Schlissel said.
“To students, I want you to know the University of Michigan is behind you always, to our fans, I want you to know we value your support, your input and your spirit,” Schlissel said.
The former CEO of Steelcase, Jim Hackett, will step in as interim athletic director, Schlissel said. Hackett, who was a teammate of Brandon’s in the 1970s, took the podium and thanked Brandon for all his work on behalf of the university and student athletes.
“The future of Michigan is not in doubt,” Hackett said, later adding, “Our potential is not in question here.”
Calling it a new chapter, Schlissel said he hopes all the stakeholders will jump in to support Michigan athletics. He added they’ll take as long as necessary to find a new permanent athletic director, with no timeframe set. “I have excellence in mind,” he said.
How did the resignation come about? Schlissel said he’d been meeting recently with Brandon, and said the AD told him Wednesday he had chosen to resign. “We discussed … the best way to set the athletic program in a strong and positive direction,” Schlissel said, adding it was Brandon who suggested leaving.
Brandon’s departure was sudden and to some, shocking, though fans and students have been clamoring for his removal after a disappointing start to the season and a series of gaffes that played out on and off the field.
Michigan football is off to a 3-5 start this season; This leaves Brady Hoke on the hot seat as the man with all the attention — and some would say blame — pointed at him.
Hoke said last month, he was “very supportive” of Brandon.
Hoke and Brandon were especially intertwined in a story that drew national headlines when Shane Morris played through what appeared to many in the viewing public as a very noticeable head injury. He stumbled, his knees buckled, and he could barely hold up his helmet after a hard hit. The on-air announcers questioned it repeatedly as Morris continued to play.
Following the game, Hoke first said Morris, to his knowledge, did not have a concussion. The university later released a 1 a.m. press release saying he did have a concussion. Hoke said at a press conference he and Brandon had not discussed it; a few days later he said they had.
The athletic department had already been embroiled in controversy when Brendan Gibbons was suddenly suspended years after complaints were issued at the university level about him allegedly raping a female student. Hoke said Gibbons wasn’t playing because of a family matter.
Brandon has been the Michigan AD since January 5, 2010, succeeding Bill Martin. Brandon ended the Rich Rod era, when he fired the coach after the team went 7-6 in 2010.
Hoke was hired. In 2011, the team finished 11-2 with the first year coach and won the Sugar Bowl. Since then, though, they’ve taken a slide.
In 2012, Michigan went 8-5; in 2013, 7-6. These records have been unacceptable for fans of the university and Brandon has taken most of the blame.
What may have been the final straw, many say, was media attention paid to a series of sarcastic, disrespectful emails Brandon alleged sent to fans who criticized his regime.
The emails included lines such as the following:
“I suggest you find a new team to support. We will be fine without you. Have a happy life … “
“I suggest you find a new team to support. I really don’t care about your opinions. Have a happy life.”
“If your wife’s message was her way of criticizing, then perhaps she needs to work on her people skills … I rarely receive hateful email like the one your wife sent.”
“Quit drinking and go to bed.”
Brandon in the past has also been short with reporters when he was questioned on his decision making.
In September there was a petition made by students to remove Brandon. University of Michigan students marched to the home of school President Mark Schlissel to protest against the performance of Brandon and Hoke.