Profiles in Competence – Michigan AD Bill Martin

You may remember a well-received Ron Wellman post from this summer. Today, we highlight another university whose athletic director knows what he’s doing – The University of Michigan and Bill Martin. Hat tip to long-time SFN commenter Noah for sending this in (although the snarky title is all mine):

Bill Martin, athletic director at the University of Michigan, announced on Wednesday that he will be stepping down on September 4, 2010.

Previously, Martin served as the head of the United States Sailing Foundation and the board of directors for the U.S. Olympic Committee. Martin was also hugely successful in both real estate and banking, founding both the First Martin Corporation and the Bank of Ann Arbor.

17 April 2007: Michigan Athletic Director Bill Martin speaks to fans at a rally to welcome John Beilein as Michigan's new men's basketball coach and Kevin Borseth as its new women's coach at Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor, MI.

17 April 2007: Michigan Athletic Director Bill Martin speaks to fans at a rally to welcome John Beilein as Michigan's new men's basketball coach and Kevin Borseth as its new women's coach at Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor, MI.

In 2000, when Martin took over, Michigan was behind the eight-ball both in terms of facilities and fundraising. Since taking over, he has overseen the construction of a complete overhaul to Michigan Stadium, the construction of a new indoor practice facility for football, and massive renovations for hockey, baseball, and wrestling. Next year, Michigan will break ground on its new basketball practice facility.

He has also conducted two extremely high-profile, successful coaching searches, resulting in the acquisition of the services of both Rich Rodriguez and John Beilein.

Through 2008-09, Michigan teams won 72 conference regular-season or tournament championships, including 11 titles in 2003-04 and eight apiece in 2004-05 and 2007-08. The Wolverines recorded 35 top-five national finishes during that same span, highlighted by eight top-fives in 2003-04.

During his decade in Ann Arbor, Michigan won:

Two national championships;
57 conference championships;
12 conference tournament titles; and,
Three conference regular-season dual-meet titles for wrestling.

About BJD95

1995 NC State graduate, sufferer of Les and MOC during my entire student tenure. An equal-opportunity objective critic and analyst of Wolfpack sports.

AD & Department Athletics Directors

16 Responses to Profiles in Competence – Michigan AD Bill Martin

  1. wolfdog1 10/23/2009 at 1:14 PM #

    We don’t want anyone with a brain.
    I guess we will have to be patient another 20 years.
    What for???????????????
    I bet he did not make excuses either!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Alpha Wolf 10/23/2009 at 1:30 PM #

    Oh no, you’ve confused our current AD:

  3. ruffles31 10/23/2009 at 1:51 PM #

    But we are not expected to compete with the Michigan’s of the world. If we can compete with Purdue and Illinois, then everyone should be happy.

  4. WV Wolf 10/23/2009 at 2:04 PM #

    As a native Mountaineer, I do not care for Michigan and their coach stealing ways.

    Both Beilein and Fraudriguez had buyout issues and lawsuits but at least Bill Martin seemed to be aware of their buyouts unlike some other AD that shall remain nameless.

  5. DRW 10/23/2009 at 3:29 PM #

    ruffles: We’re not even competing with those schools.

  6. Wufpacker 10/24/2009 at 2:44 AM #


    How this man continues to be employed by North Carolina State University is truly baffling. With the possible exception of the hiring of the new women’s basketball coach, I don’t know of anything he has done to warrant not only keeping his job, but also receiving contract extensions (presumably with salary increases) and even official recognition lauding his achievements.

    Without knowing the behind the scenes goings-on pertaining to the hiring of Kellie Harper, I am inclined to believe that Fowler had very little involvement in the actual decision making process, and was merely the “front man” when the announcement and introductions were made. Judging by some of the responses on a blog entry earlier this week here on SFN I am not alone in that belief. True or not, it just illustrates how little he has done well in his time as AD, as well as how little faith the people have in his abilities to lead the department. Deserved or not, this is a major problem and should have long ago prompted his removal, regardless of other factors.

  7. howlie 10/24/2009 at 8:38 AM #

    The Beilien & Rodriguez hires had the ‘aroma’ of basketball coaches ‘working deals’ with street agents to sign a h.s. player.

    Nevertheless, Martin ‘got his man’ within the ‘rules of the day’…
    I’m not sure that an ‘above the board’ process for hiring is possible any more.

  8. Wulfpack 10/24/2009 at 9:36 AM #

    “How this man continues to be employed by North Carolina State University is truly baffling.”

    No, it isn’t. His superiors truly adore him. He’s doing exactly what they want of him.

    Folks, LF surely sucks, but he isn’t half of the problem. NC State has major issues abound.

  9. SMD 10/24/2009 at 11:24 AM #

    ^Agreed. LF is merely the symptom of the overall problem – there is no drive for coordinated, sustained excellence on behalf of the university as a whole.

    Why did I use those specific words? Because certainly there are great individual teachers, professors and scientists doing great work at State. But there is little vision for excellence with regards to the university as a whole.

  10. Wufpacker 10/24/2009 at 2:28 PM #

    Wufpacker said: “How this man continues to be employed by North Carolina State University is truly baffling.”

    Wulfpack said: “No, it isn’t. His superiors truly adore him. He’s doing exactly what they want of him.”

    I agree with your assertion that his superiors adore, or are at least content with, him.

    This is what I find baffling.

  11. Dogbreath 10/24/2009 at 6:36 PM #

    99% of the administrators at NC State have two common, overarching goals: 1) maximizing their salary for their retirement threshold, and 2) finding someone to pick up the tab for their next steak dinner.

  12. StateFans 10/25/2009 at 6:39 PM #

    ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Bill Martin took over Michigan’s athletic department when its finances and basketball program were in shambles and the school’s facilities were outdated.

    A decade later, the athletic director will call it a career after fixing the books, restoring pride on the court and making nearly $300 million in infrastructure improvements for the football and basketball programs.

    The 69-year-old Martin announced his retirement in a letter to university President Mary Sue Coleman. “Being the Michigan AD is not just a job, it’s a way of life and one I have embraced full force,” Martin wrote in the letter made public Wednesday.

    He will step down Sept. 4, 2010, when the Wolverines host Connecticut and the school rededicates Michigan Stadium after its $226 million renovation is complete.

    Martin became Michigan’s AD in 2000 on an interim basis and inherited a department with a $2.8 million deficit and the biggest financial scandal in the history of intercollegiate athletics, stemming from an ex-booster loaning $616,000 to Chris Webber and other basketball players.

    Martin agreed to drop the interim tag and to make a three-year commitment.

    He stayed much longer.

    Martin improved the department’s finances and facilities, helped the basketball program bounce back and hired Rich Rodriguez, who seems to have college football’s winningest program headed in the right direction after losing a school-record nine games last year in his debut season.

    “We’ve had a lot of laughs and we’ve had a few tough moments,” said Rodriguez, whose team is 5-2 heading into Saturday’s game against No. 13 Penn State.

    Martin had discussed his retirement with Coleman and agreed to remain while renovations to Michigan Stadium were ongoing.

    That project is scheduled to be finished by August 2010, and another major project, a $23.2 million basketball practice facility next to Crisler Arena, was approved in January. Michigan’s football team began taking advantage of $26.1 million in improvements to its practice facility in August.

    “He’s always been a big supporter of the football program and what he’s done facility-wise and fiscally for the department has been amazing,” Rodriguez told reporters. “It’s going to be sad to see him go.”

    Lloyd Carr, who retired as football coach on New Year’s Day 2008 and became a senior AD at the school, said Michigan’s facilities were “well behind our peers” when Martin was hired.

    “Today, we are at the forefront and the monumental changes that Bill and his team have orchestrated have positioned Michigan Athletics in excellent position for decades to come,” Carr said in a statement.

    At least two issues, though, linger as Martin prepares to depart.

    The school launched an internal investigation in August into allegations that the football program regularly violated NCAA rules limiting how much time players can spend on training and practice. The athletic department also has to find enough well-heeled fans and corporations in a tough economy to fill luxury boxes at the Big House that cost as much as $85,000 per season.

    Coleman said Martin will remain as AD until a successor is chosen, and then he will remain a special adviser to her until retiring.

    Potential replacements could include Domino’s Pizza Inc. CEO David Brandon, Miami of Ohio athletic director Brad Bates, Buffalo athletic director Warde Manuel — all of whom were on the football team at Michigan when the late Bo Schembechler was coaching — and Arkansas Jeff Long, who was hired by Schembechler when he began his athletic administration career.

    “I worked with Bill when I was on the board of regents on the stadium and other projects and this day should be about him and the great job he’s done,” Brandon said in an interview with The Associated Press.

    Is Brandon interested in succeeding Martin?

    “I’m a CEO of a public company and I love my job,” Brandon told The AP. “I wish Mary Sue Coleman all the best in her search.”

    Messages seeking comment were left with Bates, Manuel and Long.

    Martin, a former acting president of the U.S. Olympic Committee and president of the U.S. Sailing Association, made a fortune in real estate. The wealthy yet down-to-earth man could’ve enjoyed his 60s on a sailboat, but chose to take on the challenges at Michigan.

    “No, I don’t need this,” Martin said with a chuckle in a 2003 interview with The AP. “But I absolutely thrive on challenges and I don’t mind working. Some nights I go home and collapse because I’m burned out. I never used to sleep on the couch. But now there are nights I watch TV at about 9 o’clock, then the next thing I know, David Letterman is on, my wife is in bed and I’m in my clothes on the couch.”

    Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

  13. Dogbreath 10/25/2009 at 8:32 PM #

    Geez, imagine how nice it must be to have CEOs of national brands on your short list for AD.

  14. RBCRowdy 10/25/2009 at 10:34 PM #

    Bill Martin ran a bank and Michigan athletics at the same time [wow]. Can Fowler walk and chew gum at the same time?

  15. Alpha Wolf 10/26/2009 at 10:41 AM #

    ^ No, but he CAN manage an athletics department from a cellphone while he’s fishing out on Lake Gaston.

  16. Daily Update 10/26/2009 at 10:28 PM #

    Surely Fowler will be a candidate for this job.

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