It should come as no surprise if "interim" is dropped from Jim Hackett's title as Michigan's interim athletic director.
According to a report by Fox Sports and as several sources have told The News, it is expected Hackett will remain in the role as athletic director longer than first expected, and likely will be in place as full-time athletic director. Four sources said Hackett told them he expects to be in the position for a year or more.
Hackett was formally introduced by university president Mark Schlissel on Oct. 31 as the interim after former athletic director Dave Brandon's resignation was announced.
Hackett, a former Michigan football player and ex-Steelcase CEO, has been tasked with evaluating Michigan football coach Brady Hoke at the conclusion of this season. Michigan, 5-6 overall, plays at Ohio State on Saturday. The program has won fewer games each season under Hoke after going 11-2 his first season in 2011.
When Hackett was asked last weekend before Michigan's final home game if he'd want to be athletic director, he didn't say one way or the other. He joked he would have to ask his wife, Kathy.
"People who know me know this is the way I work," said Hackett. "The challenge right now, I'm so focused on that. Anything that follows that, follows that in a way that becomes clearer. For Jim Hackett to be asked to be interim athletic director was about, 'We need this help right now, would you do it?'
"I'm glad to do it."
He said Schlissel ultimately will decide Michigan's next athletic director. Schlissel called Hackett a few days before Brandon's resignation was announced.
"He was thinking about what if something happens in athletics, do you have any ideas who might be potential interim athletic director," Hackett said of his conversation with Schlissel. "We talked about a couple people I thought would be really good. He said, 'Would you be interested?'"
Hackett will make $600,000 according to his contract, which also included finances to cover moving expenses.
Michigan is a 20-point underdog to Ohio State. Should the Wolverines lose that game, they will not qualify for a bowl game and Hackett's evaluation is expected to begin. While he has praised Hoke, he said the evaluation will cover a "body of work."
"When that's all done it won't be vague or unclear about where we stand," Hackett said. "I also want to emphasize, we're not where we need to be. (Hoke) knows that. The bigger issue is, not only do I know it, but does our coaching staff know it, and they know it. Sometimes in business I found myself in reviews of situations and you thought, 'People don't understand where we are.' They understand where we are. That's a good start in terms of doing the evaluation that I have to do."
If Hackett decides a change must be made in football, it is expected he will lead the search for a new coach.