The Michigan Student-Athlete Advisory Committee released a statement in support of athletic director Dave Brandon early Wednesday morning.
Brandon has come under fire by Michigan fans in the wake of the recent controversy involving sophomore quarterback Shane Morris. In the statement, the athletes' council said it "stands behind Dave Brandon and the entirety of Michigan Athletics concerning the events of the past few days."
More of the statement, from the Detroit Free Press:
"As student-athletes, we are confident that each member of the Athletic Department acts with our best interests in mind. We applaud Dave Brandon for upholding the tradition and values of Michigan to the highest standard, encouraging us to be leaders and best in all aspects of life. As such, we fully support our Athletic Director and trust his ability to make decisions for our success and wellbeing."
"It is important to remember that there are 931 student-athletes and 31 teams at the University of Michigan. ... Simply put, as student-athletes we refuse to be defined by the successes or failures of any one team alone."
The statement was released hours after students, alumni and fans held a rally on campus to call for Brandon's firing, both for his role in the Morris issue and for the policies enacted by the athletic department during his tenure. A petition for Brandon's firing was also created.
After Morris was allowed to stay in and later return to Michigan's game against Minnesota last Saturday despite apparently sustaining a hit to his head, Brandon did not speak publicly until close to 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, admitting in a statement Morris was allowed to play with a "probable, mild concussion" as a result of miscommunication among medical staff members and Michigan's coaches.
The Morris incident came in the wake of attendance issues at football games, with the athletic department struggling to sell tickets due to increase in ticket prices, a subpar home schedule and the struggles of the football team. Some fans have expressed displeasure at changes made at games as well, including using more piped-in music instead of having the marching band play.
In the week leading into the Minnesota game, it was revealed the athletic department was giving away two free tickets to the game with the purchase of two Coke products in an attempt to bolster attendance.
Fan and student displeasure has also been directed at football coach Brady Hoke, both for the team's struggles and for his role in the Morris incident. Hoke has said he didn't see Morris wobbling after the hit that likely concussed him, that Morris was medically cleared to return to the game and, as late as Monday, that Morris would've practiced with the team Sunday were it not for an ankle injury.
After Brandon said Tuesday that Morris was found to have a concussion Sunday, Hoke referred to Brandon's statement when further asked about the issue Tuesday.
Michigan president Mark Schlissel released a statement Tuesday expressing his "extreme disappointment" with the handling of Morris.
Brandon has been Michigan's athletic director since 2010.
Michigan (2-3) plays at Rutgers on Saturday night.
- Ben Estes