Jan. 5, 2010

 

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - The University of Michigan is turning to former football player and Domino's Pizza CEO David Brandon to lead its athletics program.

If approved by the Board of Regents later this month, Brandon will take over as athletic director in March.

He replaces Bill Martin, who said last year he would retire. Martin will serve as a special adviser to university President Mary Sue Coleman until his retirement.

"It is my distinct honor and privilege to have this opportunity to serve the university in yet another way," Brandon said in a statement Tuesday. "My participation as a student-athlete at U-M has made a profound impact on my life and career, and I fully understand and respect the important role our athletic programs play in helping to shape the culture and image of our University community."

The university said Brandon will have a five-year contract.

Coleman said Brandon, 57, is the "ideal candidate" and will carry on the university's "tradition of excellence."

Brandon begins his new job during a time of change for the school's sports programs.

The football team will play this fall in a newly renovated Michigan Stadium, and plans are under way to build a new basketball practice facility next to Crisler Arena.

On the other hand, though, there are two issues that still linger.

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.

Brandon has been chairman and chief executive of Ann Arbor-based Domino's Pizza Inc. since 1999. He graduated from Michigan in 1974, where he played football for the late coach Bo Schembechler.

A past finance chairman of the Republican Party, he won a seat in 1998 on the University of Michigan's Board of Regents and was re-elected in 2006.

His grandfather and father, both farmers, were supervisors in Washtenaw County's Salem Township. In 2005, he weighed a run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Debbie Stabenow but decided instead to seek re-election to the Board of Regents. Brandon also headed Republican Dick DeVos' unsuccessful 2006 campaign to unseat Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Brandon previously was been chairman and CEO of Valassis Communications Inc., a printing company whose advertising booklets at the time were inserted into nearly 58 million newspapers a week nationwide. Brandon spent 20 years at Valassis, including 10 as its CEO.