Schlissel announces search process for next athletic director


University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel announced Wednesday that the university will launch a national search for its next director of intercollegiate athletics.

Schlissel appointed a search advisory committee and said the university had hired Turnkey Search, a subsidiary of Turnkey Sports and Entertainment, to assist with the search, which would begin immediately.

“I have decided that the time is right to launch a national search for a permanent athletic director,” said Schlissel, who will personally chair the search advisory committee. The president said he did not have a specific timetable in mind.

“I will take as long as necessary to make sure it is a great fit for what I think is the best opportunity for an athletic director in the country.”

The person hired will become the university’s 12th A.D. in 150 years of intercollegiate athletics at the university. U-M has 31 teams and more than 900 student athletes.

Jim Hackett, the retired CEO of Steelcase Inc., who has served as interim A.D. since the resignation of David Brandon in October 2014, is not a candidate for the position. He has agreed to serve until a permanent successor is in place.

“Jim Hackett has been an exceptional interim A.D.,” Schlissel said. “I could not have asked for more from a leader. He stepped up at a moment of need and has served the institution with great distinction. Personally, he has been a pleasure to work with and I will always owe him a debt of gratitude.

“Jim does not wish to be considered for the permanent A.D. role. I have asked him to serve on the search advisory committee because he knows well what is required for the position to be successful. Great university citizen that he is, Jim has agreed to stay on until a permanent successor is in place.”

The A.D. reports directly to the president and serves as a member of the university’s executive leadership team. The department has an annual budget of $151 million and a staff of 350. Among Hackett’s key accomplishments as athletic director during the past year are:

• The hiring of football coach Jim Harbaugh and the progress of the football program. 

• Contract extensions for basketball coaches Kim Barnes Arico and John Beilein.

• Continued academic and athletic excellence among student athletes.

• Negotiating a lucrative new apparel contract with Nike.

Hackett said he agreed to serve as interim A.D. “out of loyalty to the university and my love of intercollegiate athletics.” Hackett is a former U-M football player.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the University of Michigan and President Schlissel. This past year has been incredibly rewarding both personally and professionally, we have accomplished many great things,” Hackett said.

“I loved serving my university and appreciate the support I have received from everyone connected with Michigan. I am now pleased to assist President Schlissel in identifying U-M’s next permanent athletic director and ensuring a smooth transition.” 

The president said he asked the search firm to devote “considerable effort” into ensuring a broadly diverse pool of candidates. Key characteristics of a new A.D. are outlined in the job description and include:

• The highest levels of personal and professional integrity and trustworthiness.

• A strong commitment to the health, safety, personal development and academic success of the university’s 900 student athletes.

• Commitment to developing competitive men’s and women’s sports teams that have the opportunity to compete each year for Big Ten and other championships.

• Demonstrated experience and a strong personal commitment to advancing all aspects of diversity, equity and inclusion.

• Knowledge of intercollegiate athletics administration, skill in fiscal management and insight into the challenges and opportunities of Division I athletics in an academic research setting.

In addition to the president, members of the committee are:

• Liz Barry, special counsel to President Schlissel.

• Anne Curzan, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, professor of English language and literature, professor of linguistics and associate dean for humanities in LSA; professor of education and faculty athletic representative.

• Jim Hackett, interim director of intercollegiate athletics.

• Corinne Harris, undergraduate student in LSA and co-captain of women’s soccer.

• Kevin Hegarty, executive vice president and chief financial officer.

• Dr. Stefan G. Humphries, alumnus, former U-M and professional football player, and medical director at Renown Rehabilitation Hospital in Reno, Nevada.

• Carol Hutchins, women’s softball coach.

From Turnkey the lead consultants on the search will be U-M alumnus and Turnkey founder and CEO Len Perna and Gene DeFilippo, senior executive director at Turnkey and former athletic director at several schools including Boston College, Villanova and Kentucky. The firm will be paid a fee of $150,000 plus expenses.

The search will be supported by Lisa M. Connolly, senior manager for executive searches, awards and select committees, and Amy Riley, administrative specialist, both in the Office of the President.


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