NOAH TRISTER, AP Sports Writer
ANN ARBOR (AP) — Michigan interim athletic director Jim Hackett says he’s preparing to evaluate the football program at the end of the season, although he would not specify whether a decision on coach Brady Hoke’s status would happen at the end of the regular season or the postseason.
“When I get there, I’ll know that I’m ready to talk about it,” he said.
Hackett held a news conference before Michigan’s game Saturday against Maryland, the last home game of this disappointing season for the Wolverines. Hackett took over when athletic director Dave Brandon resigned at the beginning of this month, but he’s kept a low profile during in his first three weeks on the job.
Hackett says he’s had a number of meetings with Hoke, and he was mostly complimentary of how the coach has handled adversity this year.
Michigan is now facing an uncertain future on a couple of fronts. It’s not clear when the school will have an athletic director in place, meaning Hackett is handling those duties at a time when some important decisions about the football program may be imminent. He says President Mark Schlissel has delegated the evaluation of the football team to him.
Hoke’s future at Michigan has been in doubt since a poor September, and even an upset victory next weekend over Ohio State might not be enough to save his job, but Hackett was not tipping his hand.
“The process of evaluating the coach at the end of the season is a really certain mark on the stage, that I know how to do, and I’m really comfortable with the fact that this guy has done an extraordinary job in very difficult times,” Hackett said. “It’s a deep respect for him, and a deep respect for the process that you go through, to make a decision like that.”
Hackett was asked if he’s interested in becoming the athletic director for the long-term, but he says he’s focused now on his immediate challenges as the interim.
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