Bill Martin Headed For Pasture

Submitted by Brian on October 21st, 2009 at 12:18 PM

Press release:

Statement from Mary Sue Coleman on Bill Martin’s Retirement

This morning, Bill Martin sent me a letter announcing his intention to retire on September 4, 2010. For nearly a decade, Bill has shown truly outstanding leadership as Athletic Director at the University of Michigan. He has not only done a superb job of attracting top coaches for the full range of Michigan sports, but he has also assembled an excellent management team to oversee all aspects of athletics operations. At the same time, he has firmly established Athletics as a financially strong and self-supporting department while guiding the renovation and expansion of most of our major sports facilities.

Bill is a great partner, and it has been a joy to work with him. Although he has been interested in retiring for some time now, I am pleased that I was able to convince him to stay with us long enough to ensure that the renovation of our football stadium would be successful and on time. That end is now in clear sight. He has agreed to remain as Athletic Director until his successor is on board, at which point he will serve as a special advisor to me until retiring from the University in September.

I will personally oversee the search for the next Athletic Director with the help of a small advisory group. We expect this process will take a number of months. With this advance notice, we have the opportunity to make a thoughtful and deliberate choice and to manage a smooth transition.

There will probably be some fete at the UConn game to celebrate the construction of the luxury boxes. Coleman's choice for the next AD will be interesting, and undoubtedly shrouded in mystery for months. News on that when I get it; tips always appreciated.


Wolverine In Exile

October 21st, 2009 at 12:36 PM ^

One thing is for sure, we won't be poaching WVa's AD anytime soon....

Here's to hoping that Mary Sue and her politburo makes sure she gets somebody who is well schooled in business practices... as a self-sustaining AthDept, we can't afford a "Rah Rah we'll pay anything for a coach" type of guy. We need a person who understands the financial aspects almost more than the athletic ones. We've been lucky with Martin, who for all his sailboaty-ness, did have a good balance of financial acumen with basic athletic competance.


October 21st, 2009 at 1:56 PM ^

that the next AD needs to be business savvy as Martin was, we also need someone who has more common sense when it comes to general knowledge of college athletics. Sure we need to pay for the stadium, coaches, etc. but college football players also need bye weeks. I wont rehash the App State debacle but beating them does you no good and losing has obviously been difficult for the program to overcome in some instances. Furthermore, while no one knows the extent of his mess-up in the Miles situation that clearly demonstrated he was relatively unaware how to properly "steal" a coach who wants to be at your school (something that has unfortunately been executed many times in the past few years by others).

That being said, Beilein was an incredible hire and his business sense will surely be missed.

steve sharik

October 21st, 2009 at 12:43 PM ^…

"Martin said to me once that he wanted out when the facilities were shored up. Somebody obviously didn't like seeing that in print, so he backtracked later. But it was obviously the case.

This is good timing for Bill, bad timing for Michigan. Buckle up."

I am especially concerned about those last two sentences. I sure hope this doesn't mean Lloyd or Brandon. I really liked Lloyd as our football coach and as a person, but a) he isn't a RR supporter (which is a pre-requisite for the job, IMO) and b) he's too up there in years. If he didn't have the energy to be the football coach, I don't see how he'll have the energy to be AD.


October 21st, 2009 at 12:57 PM ^

LC would be possibly the single worst hire as AD. His loyalty before performance mindset is completely unacceptable in the role of AD. Martin's business acumen was critical in reshaping the AD following the Goss era, where things went very badly. My suspicion (maybe hope) is that the hire will come from within, given the duration Martin was there and the likelihood he was able to groom a possible mentor.


October 21st, 2009 at 12:48 PM ^

I'm guessing there'll be some "good riddance" sentiment from some on this site, but from my perspective, we'll be losing a great Michigan Man and giant with this one. Bill Martin has to go down with Fielding Yost and Don Canham as one of the most influential ADs we've had.

Many won't remember, but before Bill Martin the AD was Tom Goss, who ran us deep into the red and oversaw the Brian Ellerbe era. Bill Martin moved us into strongly the black, turned Crisler into a much more student and fan-friendly environment, rebuilt (step-by-step from Amaker to Beilein) the basketball program from the ashes, renovated Yost, renovated Fisher, renovated the Big House, and oversaw the Rodriguez hire. He was accessible to students, wielded a big stick in the intercollegiate athletic world (and the Olympic world), and interacted with alumni in a very proactive way.

This will be a hard act to follow from a business perspective, which means I'd love to see a great Michigan Man get this job. If I had a vote, my initial vote would be for Lloyd Carr.

Section 1

October 21st, 2009 at 1:55 PM ^

It will not be, cannot be, Lloyd Carr. I'm as ready as the next guy to believe well-sourced, credible rumors. Heck, I was ready to believe "white pants in Iowa City."

I cannot believe that Lloyd Carr is even a candidate. Carr was ready to retire before Bill Martin was. Different jobs, of course. But from what I understand, and it has absolutely nothing to do with football or current coaches or anything like that, Lloyd wouldn't be a candidate for this job. He might be a good member of the search committee, though.


October 21st, 2009 at 1:04 PM ^

I have no idea who could be the next Athletic Director since I'm not even sure what it takes to be a good one, although from what I know and have read it sounds like Bill has done a terrific job. He did what he knew was right, not what was popular.

That said, would Bruce Madej make a good AD? Just throwing it out there...


October 21st, 2009 at 1:07 PM ^


/freep self-agrandizing headline

But seriously, I have nothing but respect for Lloyd, but he doesn't strike me as the type that would be interested, nor do I think he should get it.


October 21st, 2009 at 2:13 PM ^

I'm a big Lloyd fan (call me an apologist back in the day or whatever) and I support him now in his right to not get involved with Rich Rod's tenure. That said, I honestly don't think Lloyd will even be considered for this position. I don't think he wants it and I don't think that he's got it in him (the main reason he retired from coaching, IMO). Also, I think the job will go to someone who already has ample experience as an AD.


October 21st, 2009 at 1:18 PM ^

With Mary Sue Coleman heading this up, I bet current AD from Iowa, Gary Barta, is on the shortlist. Or whoever was there before him, since he's been there only 4 years.

J.W. Wells Co.

October 21st, 2009 at 1:19 PM ^

When I was but a callow youth there were a few Bill Martin edicts that I didn't care for (i.e., student ticket validation, attempts to tone down vulgarity at Yost, etc.).

But by and large, save perhaps for the sailing fiasco during the coaching search (and who will ever know what was really going on during that time?), this man was nothing short of absolutely superb in this job.

When Martin first started, he made trips around the state to have breakfasts with groups of alumni. Including in my home town, Alpena (that's four hours North of A2 on Lake Huron in BFE for those who don't know). We're a town of roughly 25,000. And Bill Martin cared to come.

The week following the 2001 terrorist attacks, I was a junior and my little bro was a freshman. That week people were panicked about what the next target might be, large gatherings of people, etc. My dad left Martin a phone message thus: "Hey, I've got two kids who are going to be in the Big House for the next game. What are you doing to make sure they're safe?" And Martin called him back personally the same afternoon, during the day when he was surely in touch with security firms, police departments, and other concerned citizens, not to mention the Illinois athletic department regarding how to rearrange the scheduled game.

Bill Martin gave us a huge and lasting bounty of new, top-notch athletic facilities, and brought athletics back from a constant game of financial Russian roulette to the point that athletics is now swimming in cash, and he's done it all while earning (charming?) the respect of even his enemies.

His successor will have HUGE shoes to fill.


October 21st, 2009 at 1:35 PM ^

I was involved with the ticket validation decision (on the student side of things) - the choice came down to either (a) capping the number of students who could buy student tickets each year, or (b) instituting the validation process. In the late 90s scalping by students on ebay, etc. was getting out of hand, and Martin wanted to get tickets out of those hands and into alumni hands. All things considered, it was a much better decision for students and a much better decision for alumni - it only hurt students trying to scalp to Buckeyes, Spartans, etc., which I'm fine with.

OMG Shirtless

October 21st, 2009 at 1:40 PM ^

I know many people who bought the tickets with the sole purpose of selling them on Ebay. You could buy student tickets for a couple hundred bucks (I have no recollection of what student tickets cost when I was in school but it was a damn good deal) and sell them on Ebay as a package for around a grand depending on the schedule.


October 21st, 2009 at 1:21 PM ^

This is just Step One from the Shadow Government in Ypsilanti.

Martin didnt retire. He was forced to release a retirement announced with a bayonnent pointing at his jugular. Hell, he might still be dead. They dont spare lives over there.

Rodriguez better just start packing his fucking bags right now.

Lloyd has waited too long to put his minions in place. He's not waiting any longer. This step was drastic, but one that had to be made in order for faster regime change.

It's all finally playing out, Just like he's planned since 1995.


October 21st, 2009 at 1:36 PM ^

So who is the AD at West Virginia?

Another question is what are they going to name after him? Sailboat has renovated pretty much every athletic facility in his tenure, thoughts?


October 21st, 2009 at 1:58 PM ^

Are there any plans to put names on the new structures within the Big House? Maybe the "Bill Martin Concourse" for one side and the "Lloyd Carr Concourse" for the other? I also think the hoops practice facility would be a good one to name after him. It would be nice if one of the buildings that he helped build were to bear his name.


October 21st, 2009 at 1:30 PM ^

Warde Manuel might be a good fit. He played for Bo before injuries forced him to quit football. He then lettered in track twice. He got his bachelor's, master's and MBA from Michigan.

He's young (40) and has been a successful AD at Buffalo, building that athletic department from virtually nothing to one that has seen its football team go to a bowl game for the first time in ages.

He also worked in the athletic department at Michigan. If we want to see a guy here for a long time, he might be the pick.


October 21st, 2009 at 1:31 PM ^

Michigan's previous athletic directors:

Bill Martin
Tom Goss
Jack Weidenbach
Bo Schembechler
Don Canham
Fritz Crisler
Fielding H. Yost
Philip Bartelme
Charles A. Baird

Of these 9 athletic directors:

-2 were football team managers (Bartelme and Baird)
-3 were football team coaches (Yost, Crisler and Schembechler)
-1 was a football team player (Goss)
-1 was a track & field athlete and coach (Canham)
-1 had a Michigan MBA and was an Ann Arbor businessman (Martin)
-Anyone know anything about Weidenbach?

Based on the past (which is not necessarily predictive of the future, I know, but still) I would expect us to hire someone with pretty strong Maize and Blue ties, with either major program coaching experience or business acumen (or both). Red's probably too old, so of the coaches that would (I would think) leave Lloyd - any other smaller sport coaches that would fit? Bowman?

J.W. Wells Co.

October 21st, 2009 at 1:51 PM ^

Jack Weidenbach (1990-1994) was basically a career administrator (28 years) with the University, and started with the athletic deparment in 1988. Weidenbach built Schembechler Hall and did minor renovations of Cliff Keen Arena and the Marie Hartwig ticket office building. He also scheduled Notre Dame through 2011, which pissed the hell out of Bo.

You also forgot Joe Roberson, who served from 1994 until Tom Goss in 1998. Roberson was the first AD to sign a college to an apparel contract (the 1994 7-million-dollar Nike deal), and of course he "fired" Gary Moeller. Roberson was a minor league baseball player whose career was ended by injury, and he became a career administrator and fundraiser for U-M (he had previously served as Chancellor of U-M Flint).