December 02, 2015

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Michigan's search for a new athletic director has begun.

The school announced Wednesday it has formed an advisory committee and hired a search firm to begin looking for candidates to replace interim athletic director Jim Hackett, who does not want to be in the running to keep his job.

''I will take as long as necessary to make sure it is a great fit for what I think is the best opportunity for an athletic director in the country,'' University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel said.

Michigan has not hired experienced athletic directors in the past, but appears to have an opportunity to change that as it searches for a leader to run a department with a $151 million budget and a staff of 350.

Possible candidates, all of whom are currently athletic directors with ties to Michigan, include Arkansas' Jeff Long, Connecticut's Warde Manuel, Boston College's Brad Bates and Colorado State's Joe Parker.

Schlissel will chair an advisory committee assisted by Turnkey Search, which will be given $150,000 plus expenses by the school.

Hackett will serve as athletic director until his successor is in place. He was hired Oct. 31, 2014, to replace Dave Brandon after he resigned.

''This past year has been incredibly rewarding both personally and professionally,'' Hackett said. ''We have accomplished many great things.''

Hackett's biggest achievement was hiring football coach Jim Harbaugh to come back and lead the program he played for two decades ago. Hackett retired in February 2014 from Steelcase, a Michigan-based business that makes office furniture.

''I could not have asked for more from a leader,'' Schlissel said. ''He stepped up at a moment of need and has served the institution with great distinction. Personally, he has been a pleasure to work with and I will always owe him a debt of gratitude.''

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