Ann Arbor – Michigan is looking for a permanent athletic director, but the university president is not going to rush into a decision.
President Mark Schlissel, after announcing the resignation of athletic director Dave Brandon and introducing Jim Hackett as the interim AD on Friday at a news conference, said he will search for an individual of integrity and one who prioritizes the welfare and experience of the student-athlete.
He does not have a specific time frame.
"I want to take as long as necessary to make sure we find a person that matches the set of ideals and is a great fit for what I think is actually the best opportunity for an athletic director in the country," Schlissel said. "So I don't have a particular time frame. I have excellence in mind."
There is no concrete list of candidates, but several names have drawn attention in part because of their ties to Michigan.
Brad Bates, the athletic director at Boston College, and Warde Manuel, the athletic director at Connecticut, are former Michigan football players. Manuel has worked in athletic administration at Michigan. Jeff Long, the athletic director at Arkansas and the chairman of the College Football Playoff selection committee, is a former Michigan assistant athletic director.
Schlissel outlined the qualities he's searching for in an athletic director and said that while having a deep-rooted connection to Michigan is significant, he has found that in a few short months on the job, he already feels like he has made a connection with the university.
"I will be looking for a person that prioritizes the welfare and the experience of our student-athletes, a person of unquestioned integrity, not just integrity to the level of NCAA rules but integrity to the Michigan way of doing athletics," he said. "I'll be looking for somebody that appreciates the bond that the cultural aspects of this great athletic program and what it does for our community. I'll be looking for somebody who wants to make the athletic program as tightly integrated a part of the overall university environment as possible.
"Beyond that, we've yet to move forward to definite a more specific job description. We need the very best person possible to do this job. Certainly, people that have a connection to Michigan know many things about the university. I can tell you though despite the fact I've only been here about 110 days, I feel like a Michigan man already, so you can learn the values of this great university."
Schlissel did not rule out Hackett as a candidate but said there is too much movement in this process to include or exclude potential candidates.
"You're putting the cart way before the horse," he said. "Events are evolving quite rapidly. I've only prevailed upon Jim to serve as the interim director, and he very graciously agreed. We'll be working together to formulate a way forward, hopefully in a reasonable time frame, to do a very serious and thorough search for a permanent athletic director."
With the resignation of Brandon and the hiring of Hackett, the timeline for evaluating head football coach Brady Hoke, whose Wolverines are 3-5 and face Indiana on Saturday at Michigan Stadium, apparently has not changed.
Brandon, who hired Hoke in 2011 after firing Rich Rodriguez, had said all along that Hoke, like the rest of the head coaches, are evaluated at the conclusion of their seasons. Michigan's final regular-season game is Nov. 29 at Ohio State, and the Wolverines must win three of their final four games to become bowl-eligible.
So the season could end after the OSU game or after a bowl game.
"Football, like all of our programs, are evaluated by the athletic department through the season but particularly at the end of the season," Schlissel said. "I would imagine the interim athletic director will be intimately involved and in charge of the evaluation of football. These things have a cadence, and we'll figure how to move forward as we would for all of our sports."
Schlissel said he quickly has become indoctrinated on the passion of the Michigan football fan base.
"I certainly have learned something that intellectually I knew on the way in the door, but boy did I sense the passion of all the fans, the alumni, the supporters of all our athletics programs in general and football in particular," he said. "I am not willing to address specific questions about the future of the football program other than to say like everything else we do at the university, we aspire to do it at a level of excellence, at a level of competitiveness in a way that just excites and involves our entire community."
Hackett inherits the power of the athletic director to weigh in on significant issues, like the future of the football coach.
"The interim AD is the athletic director until we hire a permanent AD," Schlissel said. "As you know, I feel comfortable hiring deans and provosts. I feel a little bit less comfortable ... I'm not the guy to make a decision about a particular coach. We have an athletic program I delegate that authority to."
Here are some possible successors to Dave Brandon as Michigan athletic director:
* Brad Bates, Boston College AD
* Greg Byrne, Arizona AD
* Joe Castiglione, Oklahoma AD
* Jeff Long, Arkansas AD
* Warde Manuel, Connecticut AD
* Rob Mullens, Oregon AD
* Joe Parker, Texas Tech duputy AD