Hackett’s role as U-M’s AD pleases local attorney
(As seen on WZZM TV 13) Had the University of Michigan football team been undefeated midway through October, the pressure on former Athletic Director Dave Brandon wouldn’t have reached near the level it did. His resignation likely wouldn’t have come, either.
At least that’s the opinion of Rhoades McKee attorney Bruce Courtade.
Courtade serves on the of the University of Michigan Advisory Board on Intercollegiate Athletics, which advises and consults with the athletic director and reports to the university’s president and board of regents.
Each semester, the board meets with the university president to discuss various topics based on its duties, such as “make, adopt and enforce the necessary rules and regulations governing all questions pertaining to the eligibility of players, intercollegiate relations, and membership in associations of universities and colleges organized for the regulation of athletics.”
The next meeting is Thursday. It comes roughly two weeks following the resignation of Brandon Oct. 31, and the immediate appointment of former Steelcase CEO Jim Hackett as interim athletic director.
“I expect one of the topics may be the selection process,” Courtade said, who is nearing the end of his six-year term on the board. “I don’t expect we will have an active role.”
Timing of the resignation took the advisory board by surprise, but Courtade said he had a feeling Brandon's time at the university was coming to a close.
Courtade and the advisory board knew about the public heat on Brandon, but were generally happy with the job he was doing. Many of the university’s sports are performing at a high level, but with the “engine that drives the train” — football — underperforming, Courtade said it was easy to see the public becoming displeased with Brandon’s performance.
The resignation was a result of several major public relations gaffes, Courtade said. Those gaffes likely would have been forgiven had the football team been playing at its expected level.
By the time news of Brandon’s resignation finally hit, Courtade said he was no longer surprised by the move, but he was disappointed, he said, mentioning the disparaging emails to fans from Brandon that had become public.
“I thought it was inevitable.”
The resignation decision was made after discussions between University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel and Brandon, Courtade said.
“Dave feels that it would be in the best interest of our student-athletes, the athletic department and the university community if he moved on to other challenges and allowed the important work of the department and university to continue without daily distractions. And I agree with this decision,” Schlissel said at a press conference Oct. 31.
“I have spoken regularly with Dave over the last few weeks, and we both want what is best for Michigan athletics, which is to be able to pursue the highest levels of excellence in all aspects of our programs, to support our 931 student-athletes, and to enhance the strong bond that athletics has helped the university foster with our students, alumni and fans.”
Following Schlissel’s announcement of Brandon’s resignation at the press conference, he announced the appointment of Hackett as interim athletic director.
Hackett and Brandon played football together at the University of Michigan in the 1970s under Coach Bo Schembechler. Hackett retired from Steelcase in February following more than three decades with the company, including nearly 20 as its CEO.
"Jim Hackett is a highly experienced and respected business leader, a man of integrity and a devoted member of our Michigan community," Schlissel said. "I am confident Jim will immediately begin the process of moving the department forward, including working closely with me to develop a plan to identify and recruit Michigan's next permanent athletic director."
Hackett’s term as interim athletic director is for an unspecified time, as the criteria for the next permanent director are yet to be determined.
"I am humbled to help during this interim period to keep our momentum as a great institution," Hackett said.
Courtade said although he doesn’t expect to play an active role, he’s happy a major West Michigan businessman is at the helm of the university’s athletics — even if it’s temporary.
“It was a very, very pleasant surprise,” Courtade said. “I was not aware he was under consideration, but he’s a perfect choice.”