Dec. 10, 2013
University of Michigan director of athletics Dave Brandon will regularly offer his view on a variety of topics related to U-M and intercollegiate sports. All his posts, along with links to related content, will be available on his page, mgoblue.com/brandon, and he is also on Twitter at @DaveBrandonAD.
Among the administration team of the University of Michigan Athletic Department, he stood out.
No sign of the awards he won as a student-athlete at U-M, no indication he was a first-round NFL draft pick of the Chicago Bears, no sign of a Major League Baseball career. Instead, a firm, friendly handshake, a big smile and a look of confidence greeted me as a U-M student-athlete in the early 1970s when I first walked down the hall of the building I now work at to pick up my monthly scholarship check.
Mr. Don Lund came to the University of Michigan in 1941. He was president of his senior class at Detroit Southeastern High School, and he was a great athlete.
As a student-athlete at Michigan, he earned nine letters. He was the football co-captain and Most Valuable Player as a senior in 1944, playing fullback, defensive back and punter. He started at guard for the U-M basketball team, but baseball was his best sport. Playing centerfield, he had a career batting average of .307 and was team captain his senior year.
And as the U-M head baseball coach (1959-62), he led the Wolverines to an NCAA championship in 1962 before going back into Major League Baseball as a coach and scout.
When I attended the University of Michigan as a student-athlete, Mr. Lund was back at Michigan, and for five decades I had the pleasure of knowing one of the most magnanimous men I have ever met.
Today, Mr. Lund passed away. He was 90 years old.
I had to be told about Mr. Lund's legendary athletic status. Everything I learned about his athletic prowess I had to learn from somebody else or from reading background information. It was his friendly demeanor and the respect he gave to us as student-athletes that made me appreciate and respect him immediately.
He clearly connected with student-athletes because he had been there and done that. He knew the life we led and what we had to do to be successful. Mr. Lund was a huge advocate of what we're about and how we needed to represent the University of Michigan in the right way.
I also interacted with him from time to time during my eight years as a member of the University of Michigan Board of Regents, and when I saw him occasionally during the past four years as the athletics director, Mr. Lund would always impress me through his actions how the University of Michigan should be represented.
He would always greet me with a smile and a handshake and always be very complimentary of the work we were doing. He would be the positive guy in a world where there are too many cynics and people who are always trying to find fault. Mr. Lund was one of those individuals who knew the power of positive energy, instilling that mindset into everyone he met throughout his life.
Just last year, I was asked to speak to the folks at Glacier Hills, and I was talking about the work we are doing at Michigan Athletics. There was Mr. Lund. He was in his wheelchair, right up front with a big smile, and he was there because of me and to support University of Michigan athletics.
I almost always called him Mr. Lund out of respect. To me, he is a legendary figure not only because of his success as an athlete, a coach and an administrator but as an individual -- a quality man with such a well-deserved, remarkable reputation.
It is hard to find anybody who has ever met Mr. Lund that doesn't have good things to say about him, because he just makes that positive impression on people.
He is a member of the State of Michigan Sports Hall of Fame and the University of Michigan Hall of Honor, but he never felt he had to wear his accomplishments on his sleeve. He just went about his life and was always more interested in what was going on in your life.
Mr. Lund was a very humble guy. It was one of the many qualities that made him a very special Michigan Man.
We have lost one of Michigan's leaders and best. Mr. Lund, may you rest in peace.