ANN ARBOR - Noting it was a decision that began to take form "a couple of years" ago, University of Michigan athletic director Bill Martin said Wednesday he intends to retire Sept. 4, 2010.
In a letter addressed to university president Mary Sue Coleman, Martin, 69, wrote "it is a privilege and honor to serve as athletic director, and to be part of your leadership team." He said that his role as athletic director "is not just a job, it's a way of life, and one I have embraced full force."
In a statement, Coleman said she will oversee a group searching for Martin's replacement.
Should the next athletic director be hired before Martin's scheduled retirement, Martin will serve as a special adviser to the president.
"Bill is a great partner, and it has been a joy to work with him," Coleman said.
"Although he has been interested in retiring for some time now, I am pleased that I was able to convince him to stay with us long enough to ensure that the renovation of our football stadium would be successful and on time. That end is now in clear sight."
The stadium remodeling will be dedicated during next season's opener against Connecticut on Sept. 4.
Martin was hired as interim athletic director March 6, 2000, replacing Tom Goss, and was selected outright on Aug. 1 that year. His accomplishments as athletic director include spearheading the stadium work and announcing plans for a basketball practice facility.
Martin earned his master's in Business Administration from UM in 1965.
Under Martin's watch, UM has captured 72 conference championships - either regular season or tournament - and crowned national champions in field hockey (2001) and softball (2005). Martin was in office when Rich Rodriguez was hired to lead the football program, and for the selection of men's basketball's coach John Beilein.
Rodriguez, speaking to reporters before yesterday's practice, called Martin "a good person" and someone who "loves the University of Michigan."
Rodriguez, though, hinted that he and Martin sometimes had a rocky working relationship, which likely centered on the current investigation into whether Rodriguez violated NCAA rules by conducting mandatory team activities beyond the allotted hourly limit deemed acceptable by the governing body.
Martin defended his coach when the allegations surfaced in August, though not vehemently in the opinion of some.
Rodriguez was not Martin's first choice to replace Lloyd Carr in 2007.
"We've had a lot of laughs and we've had a few tough moments," Rodriguez said. "I hope in the next 10 months that he has left as athletic director that we have a lot of good moments to share because we went through some pain together. We'd like to have some good moments for sure."
When asked if he wishes to be consulted during the search for Martin's replacement, Rodriguez didn't say yes or no. He said he does, however, have a vague idea of what characteristics he hopes to see in his next boss.
"I think you want someone who has the same kind of love for this university as Bill Martin has," Rodriguez said.
"Someone who understands athletics and student athletes and what coaches want to accomplish."
FOOTBALL NOTES: Center David Molk, who has missed UM's last four games with a broken foot, will start Saturday against Penn State, Rodriguez confirmed yesterday. … Running back Carlos Brown (concussion) practiced without limitations on Tuesday, while fellow running back Brandon Minor (ankle) was limited. … Cornerback J.T. Floyd missed last Saturday's game with the flu and should be available against Penn State. … Quarterback Tate Forcier participated in his first practice Monday since suffering a right (throwing) shoulder injury against Indiana on Sept. 26. … Suspended cornerback Boubacar Cissoko's status with the team is "day to day."
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