Weidenbach to step down as athletics chief; search committee named

Jack Weidenbach, director of athletics since 1991, will retire from his post Aug. 31.

A faculty-staff-student-alumni search committee, headed by Vice President Farris W. Womack, will begin a national search for his successor.

“During the past five years,” Weidenbach said, “I have tremendously enjoyed working with student athletes, both women and men, and their coaches. I am very proud of their accomplishments and records, and the manner in which they have maintained our great Michigan athletic tradition.

“Personally, I think my years with the athletic department have been a wonderful way to cap my career with the University. I feel that it is an appropriate time for me to step down and make way for new leadership. I do want to thank President James Duderstadt and all the friends of Michigan athletic program for their support,” he added.

“Jack Weidenbach,” Duderstadt said, “has served the University in an outstanding manner during his 27-year career here. He has provided great leadership for the athletic department for the past five years, first as senior associate director and then as director of athletics. I have been proud to work with Jack.

“Jack has led the department with a firm hand during a period of transition, as we upgraded facilities and moved toward greater participation by women in varsity sports at the same time as we continued to produce strong teams in a wide variety of men’s and women’s sports. Under Jack’s guidance,” the President added, “we have continued to be the ‘leaders and best.’ The entire U-M community, and Anne and I in particular, thank Jack and Jerry Weidenbach and wish them the best in retirement.”

The search committee for Weidenbach’s successor will include Womack, four faculty members, three students, three alumni and one staff member. The faculty members are Ejner Jensen, chair of the faculty Senate and professor of English; Percy Bates, NCAA faculty representative and professor of education; James Chaffers, professor of architecture; and Karen Drabenstott, associate professor of information and library studies. The student members, all of whom are varsity athletes, are Melinda Gehrs (swimming), Tony McGee (football) and Stacie McCall (basketball). The alumni members are John Denniston (Chicago), Geraldine Ford (Detroit) and Dave Rentschler (Grosse Pointe). Jeff Long, assistant athletic director, rounds out the search committee.

“We will conduct a thorough search for the very best woman or man in the country to be our director of athletics,” Womack said. “I expect we will have many excellent candidates for the position. This is a good committee and I look forward to the task ahead.”

He anticipates that the committee will recommend a few top candidates to Duderstadt who will select one to recommend to the Board of Regents. “We hope to be able to complete our task this summer,” Womack said.

Weidenbach was named senior associate director of athletics in 1988 along with Glenn E. (Bo) Schembechler as director of athletics. When Schembechler became president of the Detroit Tigers baseball club in 1990, Weidenbach succeeded him as interim director of athletics. Weidenbach was named director of athletics in 1991.

Weidenbach joined the U-M in 1966 and held a series of major management positions. Before moving to the athletic department, he was director of business operations and managed the entire physical plant of the University, including more than 1,400 employees.

Before joining the U-M he was a captain in the Air Force and spent more than 20 years in aviation management.


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