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Posted on Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 5:40 a.m.

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon on '60 Minutes' segment: 'We took a risk'

By Kyle Austin

The prospect of "60 Minutes" coming to Ann Arbor to film a segment about the business of college athletics provoked some nervousness in athletic director Dave Brandon and other University of Michigan officials.

“When '60 Minutes' comes calling, you get a little nervous,” Brandon said Monday.

“They wanted to do a feature on college football and college athletics, and we were flattered they came to us. We had a decision to make as to whether we crafted that story and we represented college football or whether we let somebody else do it, and we took a risk.”


MIchigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon acknowledged the risk of giving 60 Minutes access to the school's athletic department.

Lon Horwedel |

After weeks of filming, the 12-minute segment aired Nov. 18 on CBS. Brandon spoke about seeing it for the first time Monday at a Washtenaw Economic Club luncheon at Washtenaw Community College.

“By the time Sunday night came around, I was playing it cool, but deep down inside I’m thinking ‘I wonder if we should have done this,’” Brandon said.

The piece extensively features Brandon talking about the “broken” business model of college athletics, the size of Michigan’s athletic budget and the role football plays in drawing donations.

In the end, Brandon said he was satisfied with the piece.

“Truthfully, I thought it was a very balanced story,” Brandon said. “They touched on a lot of the topics that were relevant. They were fair in the ways they allowed us to speak.”

Yet even though he was satisfied, Brandon acknowledged that the university “took a risk” by opening up to the cameras. The nervousness, Brandon said, came from the fact that he sat for hours of interviews and had cameras following him around for days.

That included having a microphone pinned on him during multiple games.

“Sometimes on the sideline you get caught in the heat of battle, and I might have said ‘Darn’ a couple of times,” Brandon said.

The only “ouchie” moment, in Brandon’s view, came at the expense of Towson, another school featured in the piece.

With cameras rolling in the halftime locker room with his team beating heavily favored LSU, Towson coach Rob Ambrose delivered a speech that included profanity and a threat to kill anybody smiling.

“I’ve been in a lot of locker rooms, I’ve never heard a coach talk like that to his team,” Brandon said. “I thought it was unfortunate.

“Other than that, I thought it was a good piece. I’m glad it's over.”

Kyle Austin covers sports for He can be reached at or 734-623-2535. Follow him on Twitter @KAustin_AA.



Wed, Nov 28, 2012 : 1:31 a.m.

The "60 Minutes" segment was very flattering for UM. The football program's success augments the success of the athletic program overall, and ultimately is supportive of the academic mission. The only negative reviews have come from the usual complainers, especially those who seem obsessed with UM and seem to spend more time and energy on UM than on their own schools. Regarding Dave Brandon, UM fans should be glad that he is as involved as he is. Brandon is a hands-on leader and has done an excellent job in the short time he has been athletic director. His work on behalf of the University surely would make Canham and Bo proud.

Terry Star21

Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 11:18 p.m.

David Brandon is a Michigan hero, a great credit and asset to the University of Michigan - the nations top academic school and college football's all time winningest (& %) team. I thought he was excellent on the "60 Minutes' segment, and performed just like he does everything - 100% for the students, athletes, university and all of us faithful. Great job ! David thinks 24/7 about the students, and is very unselfish in his own needs. He feels America's favorite college sports team deserves the best - and the faithful agree. Just three weeks ago David sent myself and other Michigan faithful a very nice letter, telling us how; "You play a role in the success of Michigan Athletics". The truth is, maybe so David - but you make and give all that success a chance to happen. He included a nice little car window decal in maize; "FOR THOSE WHO STAY". We always will David. Salute !

Steven Murphy

Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 7 p.m.

Dave Brandon is a keeper. He comes off as a hardworking down-to-earth guy that is smart and is doing everything right for the University ... and without apologizing for it.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 3:52 p.m.

"They were fair in the ways they allowed it us to speak." Huh? How about some proofreading before posting articles. RE: the 60 minutes segment, there was not enough specific explanation/discussion of the "broken" business model that Brandon indicated. Brandon should spend his time addressing the issues surrounding the Big 10, or whatever it is these days, Big 14 or so? Adding colleges to the conference for strictly monetary gain, for starters. Maryland is something like 4-7 this year? Oh, that's right, the BTN will be able to expand to the east coast, which is what this is really about. How about Brandon addressing some of these issues? Brandon also needs to continue to address why UM is not a top contender nationally.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

University of Michigan represents everything that is wrong with college athletics. While touting the school as an elite institution, the football factory, and, increasingly, the basketball factory, is only interested in selling T-shirts to high school graduates, and, usurp the Lions and Pistons as this State's pro franchises. There is zero interest in educating student-athletes. Remember the Fraud Five? How much $$$ did they make for U of M? Michigan State is much more honest in their approach- what with the Clara Bell Smith center for their athletes. If Michigan was truly an elite University, they'd follow the lead of one time Big Ten member University of Chicago, and drop Division one sports all together. Fat chance- too much $$$

Blue Marker

Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 7:53 p.m.

Perhaps cut out the Red Bull. For every example of what's wrong with college athletics (specifically Michigan) you can point out I can point out what's right with it. Look no further than the current AD. He's a former football player who went on to be CEO of one of the largest pizza delivery companies in the world. Or former basketball player Rob Pelinka, he went on to UM Law School and is now a big time sports agent. He's current clients include Kobe Bryant. Try and ease the hate a bit there.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 7:53 p.m.

Well, LOL, a rather over the top and laughable analysis. But it's a free country and you were able to get that off your chest---and I'm equally free to dismiss your hyperbole.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 6:40 p.m.

Trying to put MSU on a higher pedestal than U-M by implying they have an alleged "more honest approach" is completely laughable and undermines your entire argument. U-M is "only interested" in selling T-shirts to high school graduates? Paleeeeez.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 3:25 p.m.

Also, you might want to compare U-M rankings of various schools (business, law, engineering, medicine, etc.) against the rest of the world. You'll find that Michigan does a pretty good job of educating students, and many former athletes (particularly the ones who weren't "pro" material) are actually quite successful people now.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 3:18 p.m.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 2:36 p.m.

The consistently high rankings that the various colleges within the U receives seems to undercut your implication that it's not an elite university. Is it that impossible to believe that an organization can do it all? It's not as though athletics bleeds money from the general fund to the detriment of academia. I think it's a case where the sports programs add to the culture of the U-M and make it that much more attractive to segments of the population that otherwise might not care.

Ed daggett

Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 12:43 p.m.

I don't ever remember Don Canham or Bo Schembechler as AD on the sidelines. This guy's ego is out of control & will prove to be an embarressment in due time for UM


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 11:25 p.m.

Sean Higgins was in trouble with the law, of course Bo called him out.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 8:52 p.m.

Regarding Bo, you don't remember his "a Michigan Man will coach Michigan" speech in the firing of Frieder, and his giving an ultimatum to Sean Higgins before the NCAA tournament? Bo was great but he never lacked for an ego--neither did Canham for that matter.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 6:44 p.m.

Did you ever think that the reason DB spends so much time on the sidelines and in public view (rather than hidden away in his private suite) is that maybe he is trying to support his people while keeping in closer contact with what's going on? Seems pretty smart to me - not a question of ego like you assume.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 12:36 p.m.

It's not over until 60 minutes says it is over.....stay tuned. David Brandon did a great job of defining a problem, the broken business model of schools pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into friendly athletic competition, creating an unlevel playing field between the handful of schools who spend that much without operating in the red and everyone else. It also creates the unsportsmanship like environment of amateur athletic programs buying victories. What he failed to do is define a solution. Don't think for a minute that 60 minutes isn't trolling around trying to find someone who has a solution to this broken business model of college athletics. If David Brandon is so omnipotent, perhaps he will have a solution for us next week? Revenue sharing? Spending cap? The NCAA could easily put a cap on athletic department budgets, for example, and level the playing field. If he comes up with some good ideas, it will mean camera time for him on national television, so you can make bank that he will do it.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 7:48 p.m.

In fact there is revenue sharing in the Big 10. Bowl proceeds are shared, TV revenue is shared, a portion of football gate receipts are shared based on a formula. Although the business model may well not be sustainable in many conferences all the Big Ten schools are doing quite well.