Phillips was hired at Northwestern in 2008 after serving in the same position at Northern Illinois for four years. Phillips, who signed a 10-year contract extension in 2011, was also rumored as a candidate for the Penn State AD vacancy filled by Sandy Barbour and reportedly turned down an offer for that position at Stanford in 2012.
During his tenure at Northwestern, Phillips has hired former Duke assistant coach Chris Collins to coach the men's basketball team, signed football coach Pat Fitzgerald to a long-term contract extension and led fundraising efforts for a multi-purpose lakefront athletics facility. He has also recently served as the Big Ten's Athletic Director Chair.
Brandon officially resigned on Friday. After announcing Brandon's resignation, Michigan president Mark Schlissel said he and interim AD Jim Hackett will collaborate in the search process for the school's new permanent AD. Schlissel was asked about the importance of previous ties to Michigan, of which Phillips has none.
At Michigan, prior ties to the university are often seen as an unstated prerequisite for leadership roles in athletics.
Schlissel, an outsider, was asked if such a requirement exists.
"We need the very best person possible to do this job," Schlissel said. "Certainly people that have a connection to Michigan know many things about the university. I can tell you, though, despite the fact that I've only been here for about 110 days, I feel like a 'Michigan Man' already."