Thursday October 16th, 2014

Every Michigan varsity sport head coach signed a letter sent to university president Mark Schlissel that expressed support for embattled athletic director Dave Brandon.

The letter, dated Oct. 2, the Thursday following the Michigan football team's game against Minnesota that saw quarterback Shane Morris stay in and then re-enter the game despite being concussed, was obtained by the Detroit News.

In it, the coaches say they want to counter the "negative voices" against Brandon by expressing their "unanimous support." From the letter:

Immediately after Dave Brandon was named Director of Athletics in 2010, he raised the bar of success for all sports, their staffs and most important, the Michigan student-athletes. The continued improvement of the athletic facilities, increased support staff, higher quality travel conditions and a greater emphasis on academic support of all of our 900 plus student-athletes are just some of the advancements we have been a part since 2010. 

The University of Michigan prides itself on developing future leaders, and this Michigan Athletic Department with the leadership of Dave Brandon is developing men and women to be the "Leaders and Best."

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Brandon has come under fire for the football team and athletic department's handling of the Morris incident, particularly for the slow response to the developing controversy and for not speaking publicly to the media until the Thursday after the Minnesota game, the same day coaches sent the letter.

The Morris controversy inflamed complaints about the increasingly commercialized practices Brandon has implemented as the leader of the athletic department, leading to a rally on campus and a petition that collected over 11,000 signatures that both called for his firing.

University regent Denise Ilitch said Wednesday that "the systems failed" regarding the Morris incident and that Brandon and the athletic department would be discussed at the previously scheduled regents meeting on Thursday.

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According to the Detroit News, there's nothing on the meeting's agenda specifically related to athletics. But student body president Bobby Dishell is expected to present an analysis of the petition during the "student government report" period of the meeting, and Zeid El-Kilani, the graduate student who created the petition, is scheduled to speak on the topic of "making changes in the athletic department" during the public comments portion of the meeting.

On Wednesday, Michigan coach Brady Hoke -- also criticized for his role in the Morris incident -- said Morris was healthy for the first time since the Minnesota game.

Michigan is 3-4 this season and has a bye this week.

Ben Estes

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