University of Michigan spent $124,159 on athletic director search
The University of Michigan spent more than $124,000 on its search for a new athletic director - a search that resulted in the hiring of Dave Brandon, a former university Regent in Michigan’s own backyard.
Spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald said the university was “very pleased” with the work of consulting firm Spencer Stuart. Funds for the search were provided by donors and did not come from the university's general fund or athletic department budget, he said.
“The decision to use a search firm, whether it’s an athletic director search or another search, is really up to the individual unit using the search firm,” Fitzgerald said. “In this case, the university believed that the use of a search firm would really help us get a diverse pool of candidates and really identify top talent. And it succeeded.”
According to records obtained from the university, Michigan paid Spencer Stuart $75,000 in retainer fees, a $25,000 incentive bonus and $23,545 in expenses. The bonus was payable at Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman’s discretion.
Expenses included $7,621 for a “candidate background check,” $2,779 for an unspecified number of “candidate hotel rooms” last Dec. 5, and $2,319 for a “banquet” the same day at a Hyatt Regency hotel.
Michigan also paid $614 for use of a local hotel meeting room and mileage, parking and toll expenses for two members of its five-person internal search committee, executive vice president Tim Slottow and executive vice president for academic affairs Teresa Sullivan.
The total cost for the search was $124,159.
According to their consulting services agreement, Spencer Stuart and consultant Jed Hughes, a member Michigan’s coaching staff from 1974-75, began working for the university on Nov. 30, about a month after Bill Martin announced his retirement as athletic director.
Michigan introduced Brandon as Martin’s replacement Jan. 5, and Brandon officially took over as athletic director March 8.
Fitzgerald declined to say how many or what other candidates Spencer Stuart vetted.
“Part of the reason to use a search firm is also to keep any candidates who may want to remain confidential, to keep them confidential,” he said. “And we’re really not going to speak to any other specifics other than there was more than one candidate identified.”
Hughes’ responsibilities, according to the contract, included developing a search strategy; researching, screening and evaluating prospective candidates; providing comprehensive reports on the most qualified and attractable individuals; and acting as a facilitator in the final negotiation and reference-checking stages.
In meeting with candidates, Hughes was to act only as an observer/facilitator.
Brandon, a former Michigan football player, has made a strong impression in his three-and-a-half weeks on the job.
Last month, he secured the first night football game in Michigan Stadium history, Sept. 10, 2011, against Notre Dame, and he drew praise for how he handled a February press conference outlining allegations of NCAA violations against the football program. The press conference came when Brandon was still CEO of Domino’s Pizza.
Martin said last month that Brandon was a strong choice as athletic director.
"No. 1, he has a true passion and love for Michigan," Martin said. "His whole life has revolved around this place one way or another. And secondarily, he’s a very capable and qualified administrator and business leader, so I think he’s got the right tools to do the job. I am so excited that he is succeeding me. I feel very, very comfortable with him in that seat."
Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.