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Joe Roberson, Michigan AD during ‘97 championship, dies

Joe Roberson enjoyed a 31-year career at U-M and served several positions.
Joe Roberson enjoyed a 31-year career at U-M and served several positions. (Photo: University of Michigan)

ANN ARBOR – Joseph “Joe” Roberson, the University of Michigan athletic director who served during the football team’s national championship season in 1997, died Monday, school officials said. He was 84.

Roberson died at his home in Grand Blanc, near Flint, the university announced Tuesday. No cause of death was given.

Roberson was Michigan’s athletic director from 1994-97, hiring football coach Lloyd Carr in 1995. Carr led the team to the championship two years later. University teams claimed 20 conference championships during Roberson’s tenure, officials said.

His stint as athletic director capped a 31-year career within the university system. He held several posts at University of Michigan-Flint, including professor and interim chancellor. On the main Ann Arbor campus, he also served as head of corporate fundraising and associate vice president.

Roberson also hired Warde Manuel, who rose to become athletic director.

Roberson, who received his undergraduate degree from Michigan’s Flint campus and his master’s and doctorate degrees in Ann Arbor, also was an athlete. He played baseball in the Brooklyn Dodgers organization from 1953-58.