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Posted on Mon, May 31, 2010 : 12:07 p.m.

Former Michigan athletic director Bill Martin adjusts to life outside his old office

By Michael Rothstein

For 10 years, Bill Martin spent his days and nights in the second-floor corner office of Weidenbach Hall, running one of the nation’s largest athletic departments.

When Dave Brandon took over for Martin as the University of Michigan athletic director three months ago, Martin moved a few blocks north to the Fleming building - the university’s main administration building - and into a temporary role working on short-term projects for university president Mary Sue Coleman.

It’s been a smooth transition. Except for a few moments of misdirection.


Former Michigan athletic director Bill Martin is working toward the Sept. 4 rededication of Michigan Stadium.

“I can’t tell you the amount of times I missed the turn to the Fleming building and was on my way to Weidenbach Hall,” Martin said over coffee last week at the Michigan Union. “I mean, I missed it a lot. I go, ‘Damnit, I have to back up and go around again.’

“You do the same thing every day and I would miss the turn. I would laugh to myself, so that was kind of funny. You get in a pattern. So I had to break the pattern.”

New driving directions merely underscore Martin’s adjustment to life without the constant demands of an athletic department to run.

He took it from a unit in debt to a self-sustaining one. He rebuilt the university’s athletic facilities, including his final project and part of the reason he’ll be around until September.

Martin’s career at Michigan will be complete after Michigan Stadium - his biggest project in his term as athletic director - opens on Sept. 4 against Connecticut.

After taking the job in a pinch in 2000, Martin figures it’s about time he does something else with his life. He has no interest in staying on at the school, although he will remain in Ann Arbor.

“Not at all,” Martin said. “It’s time for me, at that stage, to say that it’s been an honor and privilege to work at Michigan for over a decade but it’s time for me to move on and let new blood sit in the chair.”

The new blood, Brandon, already has implemented change. He announced the first night game in Michigan football history against Notre Dame in 2011 and has been the face of the athletic department during the university’s investigation into the school’s football team - a topic Martin declined to discuss.

Martin instead focused on his future. He said he received an offer from another university he refused to name to become its interim athletic director. He turned that offer down.

In September, he’ll step aside and return to running the Bank of Ann Arbor, which acquired a new bank in Plymouth earlier in May. He’ll stay on with the National Football Foundation as well as reapply himself to his sailing roots by working with the United States Naval Academy and its sailing program.

Martin is also going to travel - something he put aside while he ran the Michigan athletic department.

He hasn’t decided on the first destination for himself and his wife, Sally, but Sweden is a viable option. Martin studied at the University of Stockholm for graduate school, earning a degree in 1963.

He said he hasn’t been back since.

Making plans to return - and having the time to do so - is all part of the transition. “It’s weird,” Martin said. “It’s a period of adjustment but I’m looking forward to it.” Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan sports for He can be reached at (734) 623-2558, by e-mail at or follow along on Twitter @mikerothstein



Wed, Jun 2, 2010 : 6:10 p.m.

I'm curious, was the transformation of the athletic department into a profitable situation because of Martin's guidance... or did it have a direct link to the Big Ten TV deal?


Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 11:28 a.m.

I guess I'm not surprised to hear the negativity of certain UM fans considering how badly they wanted Lloyd Carr fired. Carr only won a Big Ten Championship about every other year on average and the schools only National Championship in 60+ yrs. Martin turned an athletic department that was losing money hand over fist into one of the most profitable in the country. He also was responsible for the largest facilities upgrade in the country. So if Carr, RR, Beilein, Martin, etc are ALL bums, who has actually done a good job at UM???????????????

Robbie Webb

Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 9:37 a.m.

Murrow, based on what? The haters are going to be surprised this year. Can't wait to read what they have to say.


Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 6:40 a.m.

The Martin legacy will be seen everyday in the brick and mortar he laid. The Bigger House, Wilpon Baseball complex, new football practice facility, academic facility on State, Soccer complex, and the addition to Crisler. Michigan has world class facilities thanks to Bill Martin. His leadership and business acumen filled a huge void at State & Hoover.


Mon, May 31, 2010 : 9:02 p.m.

It was all part of the plan to subordinate the basketball and football programs to the larger athletic department as a whole. In fact, plan goals were exceeded by making the two programs truly mediocre and unremarkable, bordering on inferior. Mission accomplished.


Mon, May 31, 2010 : 8:22 p.m.

Thank you Bill Martin for making Michigan sports below average!!

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, May 31, 2010 : 7:52 p.m.

The cash cow that puts the athletic department in the black is a football team that puts 100,000+ fannies in the seats, goes to a well paying bowl game and sells gear. All of that can change with a string of mediocre to bad seasons. Bill Martins legacy lies with Rich Rods performance.


Mon, May 31, 2010 : 7:13 p.m.

Thank you Bill Martin for your time and dedication to the University of Michigan. Your name will be cheered on opening day in our magnificent stadium.

Terry Star21

Mon, May 31, 2010 : 7:07 p.m.

Good luck William, I am grateful for so many things... the hiring of our king RichRod, the stadium renovations, the 12 regular season wins in 2010, and the return to a major bowl and the victory this January. But most of all you set ground work for RichRod to continue here at least another 20 years, allowed more of the millions of fans worldwide to attend a game and you continued the tradition of the Greatest College Football team in America.... God Bless you Bill....


Mon, May 31, 2010 : 6:10 p.m.

Great job Bill Martin, I couldn't have done a better job myself. Gees Craig, I completely forgot how instrumental Herbstreit was in "Outing" Les Miles and his intentions of coming to Michigan. He called out Miles just hours before LSU's championship game, causing miles to quickly debunk the story and pretty much derailed the maneuvers by Michigan to steal him away. What a great move by Herbstreit. he basically changed the whole landscape at Michigan. Almost as good as Pryor dumping RR after such a long wait. I mean with pryor on the line no other QB was even interested in Michigan that year, and Mallat transferred, pretty much set Michigan up to be in the situation they are in right now. Genius! The funny bit is that if Pryor had chosen Michigan instead, OHIO would have been just fine with Boeckman and a stable full of game backup QB's ready to go. Ever get the feeling that things are working against Michigan right now?


Mon, May 31, 2010 : 5:12 p.m.

If ever there was a time to retire it would be after making two major mistakes in RR and Beilein

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Mon, May 31, 2010 : 1:58 p.m.

Macabre: Mediocrity would represent an improvement in the football team. Love the updated Big House. Too bad the only quality football teams it will see in the near future are the visitors. Good Night and Good Luck

Macabre Sunset

Mon, May 31, 2010 : 1:55 p.m.

A bit ironic that he plans on traveling to Sweden while the rest of us suffer from Stockholm Syndrome resulting from his disastrous choice of football coaches, leading to what was once the greatest program in football history being held hostage by mediocrity.


Mon, May 31, 2010 : 1:53 p.m.

Thank you Bill Martin for all you have accomplished! You took a program that was in financial distress and put back on a sound footing. You also updated the big house ( just a minor feat :+}) and accomplished many other items too numerous to mention. Thanks again and enjoy the next phase of your life. You have earned it. Go BLUE!

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, May 31, 2010 : 1:16 p.m.

"Martin is also going to travel - something he put aside while he ran the Michigan athletic department." what defines "travel" vs "vacation"? A bit of a semantic game I suppose. Wasn't he on a sail boat in Florida when Kirk Herbstreit made his (in)famous announcement that Les Miles was about to become the Michigan coach?