- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
In the final piece of WolverineNation's 1-on-1 Q&A with Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon, he discussed the future of Michigan's facilities.
The school has recently overhauled Michigan Stadium, is in the process of renovating Crisler Center and have plans for Yost Ice Arena and Schembechler Hall set to go before the Board of Regents on Thursday.
WolverineNation: What’s next for the Michigan athletic department? What do you see as the next big venture?
Dave Brandon: “We’re going to really put a focus on facilities and it has to be on our facilities for many of our Olympic sports that, I don’t want to say have been neglected but in some cases I can’t think of another word. We’ve spent a lot of money on football facilities, a lot of money on basketball facilities and we’ve done a great job with softball and baseball and are about to do a great job with hockey. But our track-and-field programs, our newly announced lacrosse programs, our rowing program, our swimming programs, our soccer programs to a degree, we have a great competition stadium but there are things that they need. We just have a lot of work to do. We have parking problems and so what I want to do is now that we have our revenue-producing sports and some of our venues up to top-drawer where we need them.
"I want to turn my attention to the ones that aren’t in that category and that is going to require a significant amount of fundraising, a significant amount of master-planning as in how do we activate the space that we have and the buildings that we have. I would like to get to a point before I leave this job that in every one of our 29 sports, we have venues that would qualify for national competition. Whether it is the NCAA wants to play a very important tournament on our golf course or they want to hold a tennis tournament in our tennis facility or want to have a lacrosse tournament or swimming or track-and-field, that we would have a facility that would be considered and sometimes chosen for national competition because the facility is that capable.”
WN: How many do you think you have today?
DB: “We have huge problems with track-and-field, lacrosse, swimming, all the aquatic sports. We have needs with our rowing program, which is significant in terms of head count. The only remaining project with football is Schembechler Hall and we’re in the process of getting that right and our golf team has a really good headquarters point now but the golf course needs some work and that’s got to get fixed. And then with all that comes strength-and-conditioning space and our academic center, which we are really proud of, is starting to get too small for the number of student-athletes that we have so we need some expansion there. So some of it is expanding what we have and then there are sports like volleyball, wrestling and men’s and women’s gymnastics that are competing in Keen (Arena), which was built to be a swimming pool and it is not air conditioned and in many cases is undersized.
"We had competitions in volleyball this year where we had to turn away fans at the door because the fire marshal wouldn’t let us let any more people in there. So we want to create a facility that would let us have 3,500-4,000 people seated in a loud, every seat is a great seat environment, to watch volleyball, to watch wrestling, to watch men’s and women’s gymnastics. We really don’t have that. So that is going to be a really be a big transformational plan as it relates to facilities for athletics.”