Athletic Director Speculation Time Starts Now Comment Count

Brian October 21st, 2009 at 2:14 PM

Some names to keep in the disused subsection of your brain you're going to overwrite with unnecessary worry about Michigan's next athletic director:

Bob De Carolis

Currently the athletic director at Oregon State. De Carolis was hired in 1998, promoted in 2002, and has a contract through 2011; prior to that he had spent the previous 19 years at Michigan as an associate athletic director. His time at M:

He started his Michigan career in 1979 as an administrative assistant. He was promoted to assistant business manager in 1980; at the same time, he was also named the head softball coach. De Carolis was Michigan's softball coach from 1980 to 1984 and his Wolverines had a third-place finish at the AIAW national championships.

De Carolis was promoted from assistant business manager to business manager in 1983; in 1987 to assistant athletic director for business; in 1990 to associate athletic director for internal operations; in 1994 to senior director for financial operations; in 1996 to senior associate athletic director and became responsible for all athletic facilities and venues at Michigan

Under his leadership as senior director for financial operations, De Carolis led negotiations with Nike for an all-school contract for athletic shoes and apparel one of the first of its kind in the country. He established a long-term relationship with Pepsi-Cola for beverage rights, to all athletic venues.

De Carolis also spearheaded a "gift brick" donor program for Michigan Stadium, developed a comprehensive capital improvement program and coordinated the development of a master plan for the renovation of Michigan Stadium.

At Oregon State, he pulled a Bill Martin:

Since arriving at OSU, De Carolis has developed and executed the financial recovery plan that helped the Department of Athletics eliminate a $12.5 million accumulated deficit and grow the overall budget by more than $25 million.

What's more, the football team went from moribund to half-decent, the softball program went to the CWS, and the baseball program won back-to-back national titles. Basketball… eh. But it's Oregon State. When Indiana was looking for a new AD, he made the three-man shortlist, which caused local sourpuss columnist John Canzano to pen a statement of strong support for OSU keeping the guy. Building The Dam has a series about their love for the guy. FWIW, De Carolis has a daughter at Michigan now.

He's a strong candidate with a successful experience at a BCS-level school with major previous ties to the school. Setting aside politics, he's an obvious A-level choice amongst folk with ties to the department.

Jeff Long

Currently the athletic director at Arkansas. Long's path to his current job was considerably more winding than De Carolis. Before his tenure at Arkansas, he was:

  • AD at Pitt
  • Senior associate AD at Oklahoma
  • AD at Eastern Kentucky
  • Associate AD at Virginia Tech
  • …hired by Bo Schembechler into the athletic department.

Long, like De Carolis, got his start at Michigan. Long oversaw Pitt's rise as a basketball power, and… well, oversaw Dave Wannstedt. He hired Wannstedt, which seemed like a decent idea at the time. He also hired Jamie Dixon, then an assistant, to replace Ben Howland. That worked out better.

Pitt's stuck in an ugly stadium situation where they share the Steeler's stadium and play in front of very few people. Not sure what, if anything, Long could have done about that.

As far as the Michigan connection, he was picked by Bo to be an assistant coach after Spurrier cut him loose at Duke and worked with him for a long, long time:

Schembechler, the legendary Michigan football coach who died Friday of heart failure at age 77, had heard good things about Long and hired him as a graduate assistant coach.

Long rose to associate athletic director at Michigan, working under Schembechler when the latter had the dual role of football coach and athletic director.

"There won't be people like him in sports again, I don't think," Long said yesterday, his eyes welling with tears. "He's a unique guy, one who can't be duplicated."

Some of the stuff he did at Michigan:

Before you knew it, the kid from Kettering was, for all intents and purposes, the director of football operations for one of the most powerful programs in the country. He organized the first on-campus "Kick-off Classic" in 1995 and was Michigan's administrative liaison at 11 bowl games and three men's basketball Final Fours.

Administrative liaison sounds like a sweet gig, eh? The rest of that article is an extensive profile of Long upon his hiring at Pitt, if you're interested in more detail.

Warde Manuel

Currently athletic director at Buffalo. Manuel hired Turner Gill, who's turned Buffalo from the worst program in the country—for a couple years, Doctor Saturday (then calling himself SMQB) had a weekly "Buffalo Line Watch" in which he wondered over the Vegas line for that week's Buffalo sacrifice—into a mediocre MAC team. And he's probably done some other stuff, none of which anyone knows about because the only thing anyone's ever talked about in regard to Buffalo athletics is Turner Gill. His bio has a list of accomplishments, many of which are Team X won Thing Y; none are about Building Z was constructed.

But it's Buffalo, so the main goal is to keep your head above water:

When Manuel arrived on campus he focused on building a model of fiscal accountability - by using a zero-based budgeting methodology - that provided each area with the resources that were needed to be successful. Since his arrival, Manuel has effectively balanced a budget that has increased by nearly four million dollars while increasing corporate sponsorships by 40 percent.

This counts as a win at Buffalo.

Manuel was a defensive lineman at Michigan in the late 80s, earning a starting job as a sophomore before suffering a career-ending neck injury, and did some other non-athletic department stuff until 1996, when Michigan hired him. He quickly leapt up the career track, getting a promotion to associate AD in 2000. His career stagnated from there—the leaps all came during the thoroughly inept Goss administration, and he leapt to Buffalo in 2005.

To forestall a thousand emails: no, I don't know if the persistent rumors that Manuel is tight with Eastern Michigan regent James Stapleton, a guy who said Brian Ellerbe's firing "should shame us all," are true, nor do I know if the assertions that Stapleton was attempting to sabotage Rich Rodriguez and Bill Martin by feeding information to the Free Press are true. I have heard all the same things you have and have no further information. If you'd like to provide further information I am all ears; I have nothing more than message board mutterings to go on at the moment.

I do think Manuel's reaction to Gill not getting the Auburn job—he said it would be "naive" to think it wasn't racist—is reminiscent of the athletic department's actions during the Goss administration. You'd have to be naive to believe that race wasn't a factor in the hiring of Ellerbe, or the hiring of Tommy Amaker after Ellerbe's richly deserved firing attracted "shame us all" vitriol. I would like to avoid race being a factor either way, thanks.

Past that: Buffalo, a MAC school that's only been in D-I since 1999, is clearly not an athletic department on the same level as Oregon State or Arkansas. Manuel's done a good job there but Michigan wouldn't hire Buffalo's football coach and probably shouldn't hire their AD. He's a rung away from being an A-level candidate even without the CONSPIRACY rumors.

Brad Bates

Currently athletic director at Miami (Not That Miami). Michigan graduate and a walk-on defensive back in the late 70s and early 80s. Spent two years as a grad assistant at Michigan, then moved into S&C at Colorado (under McCartney) and Vanderbilt. Moved into athletic administration in 1989, became senior associate AD at Vandy in '98, and was hired at Miami in 2002.

Bates has some things to recommend him. He hired and retained hockey coach Enrico Blasi and undertook the construction of a new Goggin Arena; the two items have turned the Redhawks into a CCHA power and saw them land in the national title game last year, albeit as a four seed. Miami and Vandy are Serious Academic Schools and he's done well with APRs at Miami, so he'd be more likely to slide in to the Michigan environment. His opinions on piped-in music are unknown.

Again, Bates is a rung away from A-level candidate since he's the AD at a MAC school, not a BCS one, and hasn't made great decisions when it comes to the two revenue sports.


Former regent Dave Brandon is out there, but is a heavily active Republican who might unnecessarily politicize something that doesn't need that sort of thing. He's also the Domino's CEO and would have to give up his current job, and has considered running for the Senate. He's got other priorities. Also rumored to be anti-RR. Lloyd Carr is unlikely to have any interest. Longtime AD member Fritz Seyferth did a lot of stuff in his tenure at Michigan and is now some sort of freelance consultant. He might be a candidate, but people say he's too old; he's pushing 60.



October 21st, 2009 at 2:44 PM ^

"His career stagnated from there—the leaps all came during the thoroughly inept Goss administration, and he leapt to Buffalo in 2005."

No further questions, your honor.


Seriously, it boggles my mind that a buffoon like Goss was ever put in charge of something as big as the UM AD.


October 21st, 2009 at 2:38 PM ^

I have heard him say in an interview after the Indiana thing that Michigan would be the only job for which he would consider leaving OSU (Not that OSU). I think he called it his "Dream Job."


October 21st, 2009 at 2:45 PM ^

would be an excellent choice. Following him here in PDX, he has elevated the AD at OSU to a level that is historically unprecedented. He's recently expressed some frustration with the lack of fan support for OSU (namely football) among its fan base in Oregon, so I think if he's M's choice he will absolutely take it....

Section 1

October 21st, 2009 at 2:36 PM ^

I agree. And that sums it all up, about as succinctly as is required.

One note about Fritz Seyferth's age; he'd be starting in the job at a younger age than Bill Martin did.


October 21st, 2009 at 3:08 PM ^

My guess: Brian's been working on this post for at least a day. News this big doesn't arrive on Mary Sue Coleman's desk without a little advance notice, and Brian seems to have several sources for information in the athletic department.

Besides, it seems unlikely that Brian would half-ass a quick google-stalk of potential replacements. And this post -- in three hours -- would be 2005-Henne-vs.-OSU-esque.

My 2¢


October 21st, 2009 at 4:07 PM ^

My priorities for the athletic department are:

1. The football program and it's continued excellence.....
6. All of the other things that go into it's successful operation. Therefore I think a top priority is to find a candidate that has made successful decisions, particularly hiring decisions, as relates to football. And I agree that he or she should be hired only after explicitly supporting RR.


October 21st, 2009 at 2:41 PM ^

Another direction would be a Bill-Martin-like hire from the business world.

Martin was pushing 60 when he took the job as a quasi-retired businessman.

Here are some C-Level folks from Michigan that are around retirement age with major companies.

Steve Sanger, Retired CEO General Mills.
Hendrik Meijer, CEO Meijer.
David Brandon, CEO Domino's.
Tom Wilson, CEO AllState
John Faraci, CEO International Paper.

I'm sure there are more, but those are the ones I recall.


October 21st, 2009 at 2:44 PM ^

I recollect he hired Urban Meyer at Bowling Green. At New Mexico he hired Steve Alford, who has improved the bb program after Dave Bliss (he's the one who went down at Baylor), Fran Fraschilla, and Ritchie McKay. The Mike Locksley era has not gone as well (note 0-6 this year and suspension for altercation with assistant).

Blue In NC

October 21st, 2009 at 2:44 PM ^

I was not aware of De Carolis but he sounds like a very solid candidate and seems to be one that needs to be interviewed if he has any interest. Ties to UM, check. Experience at major program, check. Business acumen, check. Interest in job, likely. Sounds great at this point.


October 21st, 2009 at 2:44 PM ^

But, FWIW, De Carolis seems to be doing everything he can to turn that around. Craig Robinson was a fantastic hire.

[Insert comment here about hoping this major search is as lol-ish as your last one.]

Wolverine In Exile

October 21st, 2009 at 3:01 PM ^

Only blemish I saw on DeCarolis's resume was lack of hockey experience since that's going to be (hopefully) the most important hire this guy will have to make in the near term.

On the other hand, Red's set up such a program, maybe he already has his succession plan in place and the only thing the new AD will have to do is rubber stamp it. Red's probably one of the few coaches in any sport that's earned the right to do that. I always have thought Red wants to go out like Bo.. set the tradition, name the successor, and oversee the program in a non-official capacity from a retired Godfather like perch.

Other than that, I think this DeCarolis looks promising


October 21st, 2009 at 9:36 PM ^

I seem to remember reading information during the coaching search that Brandon, who was on the search committee, was in the Les Miles camp. Which would make sense. He is a total homer and likely pushed for a UM alum to be hired. His power is basically defunct now that he's no longer a regent, thankfully.

Feat of Clay

October 22nd, 2009 at 10:01 AM ^

But isn't he active in the hospital campaign? I thought he developed pretty good relationships with folks at U-M--I know many people who were very sorry to seem him go off the board. I don't really know whose ear he has, and maybe you're right, but I have to say your comments about him being defunct kind of surprised me.


October 21st, 2009 at 3:09 PM ^

Have most or all of the past directors had connections to U of M? I assume there are some good candidates who have no ties to the University. How likely is it that the University goes for a Michigan Man convert?

Section 1

October 21st, 2009 at 3:39 PM ^

had a Michigan connection:
Martin's, ironically, was the most tenuous. But he was a student, and a local A2 business powerhouse.
Goss - played football, was a mostly-local businessman.
Roberson - out of University Admin.
Weidenbach - out of AD Admin.
Bo - He was Bo. (Oh, and a coach, too.)
Canham - The triumverate. Track man, track coach, hugely successful local sports equipment business.
Crisler - He was Fritz Crisler. (Ditto coach.)
Yost - He was God. And since God is omnipresent, he was everywhere.


October 21st, 2009 at 3:17 PM ^

Worthwhile read -- a recent (Oct 14th) Q&A with De Carolis from the Corvallis Gazette-Times. It looks like he borrows some of his fundraising techniques from the Victors Club but is trying to break from the quid-pro-quo mentality:

QUESTION: What are you hearing from donors who turn you down?

ANSWER: "It's all over the map. If you can get in front of people, people get it. Now we have to see if they can write the check. Then there are quid pro quo (something for something) people. That mentally has to stop.

"Ninety-nine percent of our donations are transactional. It's about the football ticket, parking and amenities. They are season ticket holders in football. Few are giving philanthropicly for the athletic department. We are doing all the right things, and we are winning.


October 21st, 2009 at 3:26 PM ^

A former colleague of Warde Manuel's in the Michigan AD, Mike Cross, is currently a senior associate AD at Princeton. I used to work with Mike in college athletics, and I know that he played basketball at Buffalo. I would imagine that he would be on a short list for the job at Buffalo if Manuel became the AD at Michigan. Prior to taking his position at Princeton, Mike earned his Ph.D. in higher education administration at Michigan and he worked in the compliance office. It would be neat to see two Michigan men move up the ladder in the athletic administration world, and Mike is ready for prime time.


October 21st, 2009 at 3:27 PM ^

The West Virginia AD? I know it's a joke!

I wondered about people from the Ohio St or Texas administration since those 2 schools are currently the ones with the largest athletic budgets and have gone through renovations.

I wonder what criteria people would like to see in an AD, someone who gets along well with the coaches and provides an environment for success.

What would be the problem if Carr was an AD?


October 21st, 2009 at 3:29 PM ^

If I remember correctly, the last book that Bo wrote had a couple of pages devoted to Brad Bates (discussion of what a scrappy walk-on he was), and then he concluded the section by mentioning that he wouldn't be surprised if Brad Bates would someday become Michigan's AD.

I attended Miami and actually had some interactions with Bates while I was a student assistant on the football team. He is a great guy, and seemed to really have a great vision for the future of Miami's athletic department.

I know that the performance of the Miami football team over the past few years might scare people off, but his decision to hire Montgomery as HC when Hoeppner left was met with practically unanimous support (Hoeppner certainly endorsed the decision, and he was a God-like figure in Oxford, even after leaving for IU). Time will only tell if his second football HC hire is a little more successful.


October 21st, 2009 at 3:56 PM ^

In past Athletic Director searches, the name Rick Bay has come up. He worked for the UM Alumni Association in the 70s. He was the AD at tOSU, but he resigned (presumably under pressure) after firing Earle Bruce (…). He was also the AD at San Diego State, but he resigned under pressure from there as well ( He's currently a consultant, I think.

Just throwing his name into consideration...

North Star

October 21st, 2009 at 4:04 PM ^

Brian - any noise from campus about internal candidates? What about Joe Parker for example? Has not been an AD but has experience with a number of strong schools, including Oklahoma prior to coming to Michigan. He's an M grad (swam at Michigan in the mid-80's)and is reputed to have done a great job building M's fundraising capabilities (and bringing them into the modern era).

Section 1

October 21st, 2009 at 4:43 PM ^

Glad someone mentioned it. I haven't a clue if he'll get any consideration, or if he'll even be a candidate. I can only imagine that if -God forbid- something happened to Martin, that Parker would be the obvious Interim choice. But whether he'll be a candidate in this kind of search, I don't know. I think Martin likes Joe Parker and relies on him a lot as his second in command.

Feat of Clay

October 28th, 2009 at 9:11 AM ^

I like to think the state of WV let out a big sigh of relief this morning. Your remaining coaches are safe, rubes.

I agree that Warde isn't senior enough--he's got the U-M experience, sure, but he hasn't had an AD job other than Buffalo, has he? I know him (very slightly) and to be honest he never even crossed my mind as a possibility when I saw the Martin news this morning.

Brandon may be a crazy long shot, and I wouldn't challenge the assessment that he's not that interested. HOWEVER, I wouldn't fear some kind of politicization of the job should the unexpected happen. (I see on a more recent entry you clarified that, thanks).

Brandon was a pretty good Regent--he listened, he understood, he asked sound questions, he looked out for the U's interests--and he's been an excellent friend to the University through the Mott campaign and other efforts. A lot of people at the U respect him, even those who (politically) agree with nothing he stands for otherwise. I'd probably feel pretty good about the appointment. But then I kinda liked Bill Martin too.

Enjoy Life

October 21st, 2009 at 5:28 PM ^

According to his bio, "Bob [De Carolis] is married to the former Sandra Taylor and they have three children, daughter Lyndsay, a junior at the University of Michigan, and twin daughters Lauren and Hayley, juniors at Crescent Valley High School."


October 21st, 2009 at 9:54 PM ^

...would be a HORRIBLE choice. Run for the hills if that's the direction it looks like Mary Sue is headed in. I personally think he's not a serious candidate, though. He was in the Rich Rod resistance faction of the search committee from everything I've read, and he's old school like Lloyd is. Now that he's no longer a regent his influence is minimal, so it's unlikely they would pick him.

If De Carolis's philosophy is anything like Canham, I think they need to go in that direction. He's going to need to spearhead the Crisler renovations, get the basketball program even more love now that they made the tourney a year ago, and make sure the right Berensen assistant is chosen to coach the hockey team.

I don't know of many others that would be a good option, except for someone like Rick Leach (ha), someone from Michigan Sports Marketing/the Development network, or a young buck like Jamie Morris (half-kidding about that one too.)