Michigan's Frank Beckmann retiring

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Frank Beckmann, the radio play-by-play voice for Michigan football since 1981, announced his retirement Friday, effective at the end of this football season.

Beckmann had been the second-ever flagship radio play-by-play voice for the Wolverines, taking over for the legendary Bob Ufer. Beckmann was on the call when Michigan won its national championship in the 1997 season.

The announcement of Beckmann's retirement comes months after he wrote a controversial May 24 column in the Detroit News, where he defended Sergio Garcia's "fried chicken" comments aimed at Tiger Woods, saying it was an overreaction of political correctness.

Michigan did not suspend Beckmann for the comments but did release a statement May 30 calling them "offensive and inaccurate." Beckmann also apologized.

Beckmann, in an interview with the Detroit News on Friday, said the comments and the reprimand had nothing to do with his decision to step down.

"This is my decision," Beckmann told the News. "I never got any kind of big feedback from that (original column). When I apologized for being insensitive to the stereotype, I literally got more emails complaining about the apology than I did about the column -- it was four-to-two. I'm on the air all the time, and I didn't get any phone calls about it.

"Maybe to a few people it was, but it was a non-issue."

Instead, he told the News it was just time to cut back on his duties. Beckmann, who turns 64 this year, will remain on the air at WJR-AM in Detroit, where he hosts a daily talk-radio program.

"His voice has become synonymous with some of the great calls in the history of our football program," Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said in a statement. "We look forward to enjoying one more season of Frank being the voice of Michigan football before he begins his well-deserved retirement.

"We thank Frank for all the years of talent, travel and support of Michigan athletics. We look forward to celebrating his contribution to our football program as the 2013 season unfolds."

Beckmann is the third longtime Michigan athletics employee to announce his retirement in the past month. Former Michigan athletic public relations head Bruce Madej announced his retirement, effective in June 2014, earlier this week. Longtime football equipment manager Jon Falk, who has been with the program for 40 years, will also retire at the end of the season.