December 27, 2006 at 3:37 am

'We have lost a true Michigan man'

Gerald Ford was a famed center at Michigan, playing for the Wolverines from 1932 to 1934.

Ford's No. 48 jersey was retired on Oct. 8, 1994, during halftime of the Michigan-Michigan State game. It was the fifth - and most recent - number to be retired in Michigan history.

"Our nation has lost a great American and a president who decided, at the most critical time, a path that was unselfish and in the best interest of his country - truly a profile in courage," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said Tuesday night in a statement.

"At Michigan, we have lost a legendary figure who represented the highest ideals of the 'Michigan Man' - a gentleman who was integrity personified. We love him and we will miss him, but we are compensated by the knowledge that his spirit and his love for the University of Michigan will endure."

Ford was named the Wolverines' most valuable player as a senior. He earned his undergraduate degree from Michigan in 1935 and received his law degree from Yale in 1941. He also served as an assistant football coach at Yale.

"We have lost a true Michigan man with the passing of former president Gerald Ford," Michigan athletic director Bill Martin said. "His life-long love of this university will be remembered for years to come. From a personal view, I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to know President Ford. We all knew he was a great statesman, but we also should remember he was a great athlete and even greater Michigan man."

You can reach Angelique S. Chengelis at Angelique.Chengelis@detnews.com.

Gerald Ford as a University of Michigan football player in 1934. Ford ... (Associated Press)