Sept. 2, 2010
By Bill Martin, Athletic Director Emeritus (2000-2010)
When the field hockey team won the national title we were at Kent State and I remember looking at our opponent, top-ranked Maryland, and thinking how big they looked. Our team held their own and played more physically, and it was a special moment to be there for the first women's national team title in Michigan history. Marcia Pankratz willed our team to victory.
When softball captured Michigan's second women's national team championship in school history, the NHL was on strike, so ESPN filled its schedule with the Women's College World Series. They used seven or nine HD cameras, which made it a special broadcast. There were so many close-ups of the players that it really helped the viewers connect with our student-athletes.
After renovating the football locker rooms at Michigan Stadium, we started using them as visiting locker rooms for sports competing in Crisler Arena, like women's basketball and gymnastics. At first I was worried about Title IX issues, but all the visiting players loved it, so we kept doing it. They even took pictures in it!
Beating Duke in 2008 was a special moment. It's when I believed Michigan basketball was back.
There have been so many great moments with the Michigan ice hockey team that I can't choose just one. When you have quality coaching, you have successful teams. Red is a reflection of that.
We played UCLA in football out west in 2000 and after the game we loaded onto four buses heading out of the stadium with a police escort. We were flying down the freeway and suddenly the bus pulled off to the side and a police car drove up to the last bus -- the one I was in. The doors opened and Jim Brandstatter and Frank Beckmann hopped on the bus with their radio engineer, Tony Butler. They missed the buses when we pulled out of the stadium and got a police officer to chase our caravan down, pull us over and let them on.
I'll always remember the 2007 football team for giving Lloyd Carr the sendoff he richly deserved. In the postgame locker room, Lloyd stood up and told the team how proud they had made him.
The last time I was with Bo was on a Wednesday evening practice right before the big Michigan/Ohio State game, two days before he passed away. It was cold and dark and we were sitting in the end zone while the team was practicing. We talked about where we would be for Thanksgiving and what we'd have for dinner. It led to a discussion on what were better -- fresh or canned cranberries. We had a rather heated discussion with a lot of people like Jon Falk giving their input. Ultimately, Bo decided for all of us that canned cranberries were better because they fit so nicely on the plate beside the dressing and mashed potatoes. Everyone else left and it was just me and Bo and he was staying until the end of practice -- I had to get home. He was sitting on a stool and I was standing and it was cold and the lights were on the field. I told Bo I had to go and he stood up, grabbed my arm and said, "Martin, you get that stadium project done and if you need any help, call me. Have a happy Thanksgiving." That was the last time we spoke.
When we open the gates on Sept. 4 it will be the culmination of seven years of hard work by everyone. We should all be proud and the new Michigan Stadium will serve the Maize and Blue faithful for decades to come.
There are so many incredible fans that support Michigan athletics. We are one family and I want to thank them all.