IMO, Bill Martin’s administration had an important flaw: its lack of adaptation to world of electronic communication, journalism, and public relations. PR firms now can use electronic programs to scan the internet for negative comments about a program, then jump onto chat boards immediately to rebut the comments. Journalists seek attention and some pay little attention to ethics. And blogs are replacing them more and more.
Unprepared and too slow to respond to the changes, our athletic program began suffering from smear campaigns and rumor mills even before the hire of RR. The campaigns quickly intensified thereafter. Probably RR was unprepared for the media fishbowl at UM. But PR was not his main job and both he and the student athletes should have had better guidance from the PR section of the Athletic Department.
I appreciate what Bill Martin has done for UM, and happily admit that I had been wrong previously in criticizing his search for the BB and FB coaches. Ultimately, he made two excellent choices. But, based on what I have seen, I believe that—somewhat as the game had passed by our highly respected FB coach, Lloyd Carr—the radically changed world of athletic administration had passed by Bill Martin in this one important way: communication. In the future, we will need a young energetic AD who is attuned to the new information world that we live in and has the courage to make the necessary administrative changes.