Jim Betts
Michigan WolverinesNo. 23
Quarterback, safety
Date of birth: c. 1949
Career history
High school: Benedictine High School, Cleveland, Ohio
Career highlights and awards

James Betts (born c.1949) is a former American football player, university administrator, and business executive. He played college football for the University of Michigan from 1968 to 1970. He also briefly played professional football for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League. During the 1970s, he worked as an administrator in the University of Michigan athletic department. He later pursued a career in business and was in charge of minority recruitment at Domino's Pizza for many years.


A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Betts played high school football at Benedictine High School in Cleveland. He enrolled at the University of Michigan in 1967 and played college football there from 1968 to 1970. He played at several positions during his collegiate career, including quarterback, running back, wide receiver and safety. As a sophomore in 1968, Betts played at the running back and wide receiver positions.[1] When Bo Schembechler became the team's head football coach in 1969, protests by African American players were disrupting the Indiana Hoosiers football team. An organization known as the Black Action Movement (BAM) was also spreading in Ann Arbor. Amid the threat of deteriorating race relations, Betts saw an opportunity to alter Schembechler's clean-shave policy. Betts told the coach that facial hair was part of the African American players' "heritage." Schembechler agreed to relax the policy, reportedly "to the amusement of the rest of the players, both black and white, who believed Betts was full of shit."[2][3]

As the backup quarterback for the 1969 Michigan Wolverines football team, he totaled 293 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, 130 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.[4] His best game as a quarterback came against Illinois on November 8, 1969, when he completed six of nine passes for 106 yards, including touchdown passes to Garvie Craw and John Gable. He also rushed for 51 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.[4][5] Michigan defeated Illinois by a score of 57-0, marking the second worst defeat in the history of the Illinois football program.[5]

Betts also played in the 1969 Michigan vs. Ohio State football game, considered one of the biggest upsets in college football history. The unranked Wolverines defeated the No. 1 Buckeyes by a 24-12 score. The day before the game, a fight broke out between players from the two teams as they passed each other in the tunnel at Michigan Stadium. Schembechler and Woody Hayes separated the players.[6] Forty years later, Betts recalled: "On Friday, the Buckeyes were on the field first, doing their walk-through drills. Before they left, they lined up in the tunnel on both sides. As we made our way to the field, some Buckeye made a nasty comment and all hell broke loose. Woody and Bo were trying to separate guys as we were all fighting like cats and dogs. One of us yelled that we'd beat 'em tomorrow. And we did!".[7]

As a senior, Betts told Schembechler he was unhappy in the backup role and persuaded the coach to allow him to move to the defensive unit for the 1970 Michigan Wolverines football team. During spring practice, he made the switch to the safety position and received the Meyer Morton Trophy,[8] awarded each year to the Michigan football player who showed "the greatest development and most promise as a result of the annual spring practice."[9] In his final game in a Michigan uniform, Betts had 14 tackles and intercepted a pass to set up a Michigan score in the 1970 Michigan-Ohio State game.[1]

After the 1970 football season, Betts was selected to play on defense for the Blue team in the annual Blue-Gray All-Star Game in Birmingham, Alabama.[10][11]

Professional footballEdit

Betts was drafted by the New York Jets in the 10th round (240th overall pick) of the 1971 NFL Draft.[12] In May 1971, he signed a contract to play for the Jets as a backup quarterback and safety.[13][14] However, an eye injury cast uncertainty over his potential career as a professional football player. He lost 70% of the vision in his left eye in a swimming accident when a whistle struck him in the eye.[15] He was cut by the Jets in training camp, tried out with the Minnesota Vikings, but was cut by them as well.[1] He did play professional football for a short time with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League.[1]

Later yearsEdit

After his playing career ended, Betts worked for Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company for two years.[1] In August 1974, he was hired by the University of Michigan to direct the academic counseling and tutoring service for the university's student-athletes.[15] In that capacity, he became an advocate for football players to complete their degrees.[16]

In 1978, Betts moved to Chicago where he accepted a position with a financial services firm. He subsequently returned to Ann Arbor where he worked for an advertising firm founded by a former Michigan football player, Donald A. Coleman.[1]

In the late 1980s, Betts was hired by Domino's Pizza as its Director of Minority Recruitment, a position he held for at least 15 years.[1] He also served as the company's Director of Urban Initiatives.[17][18]

Betts is married to Marty Betts. They have two sons, Eric and Evan.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Jim Cnockaert (2004). Michigan: Where Have You Gone?. Sports Publishing LLC. pp. 14–18. ISBN 1582617716.
  2. Michael Rosenberg (2008). War As They Knew It: Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, and America in a Time of Unrest. Grand Central Publishing, Hachette Book Group USA. ISBN 9780446542234.
  3. "Fresh Woody-Bo tale should appeal to all". The Columbus Dispatch. November 8, 2008.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Michigan Football Statistic Archive Query Page". University of Michigan. Retrieved December 5, 2012.(To retrieve Marsh's statistics, enter "betts" in the space for "Enter last name" and "jim" in the space for "Enter first name.")
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Illinois Trounced, 57-0". The New York Times. November 9, 1969.
  6. Bo Schembechler, John U. Bacon (2007). "Bo's Lasting Lessons: The Legendary Coach Teaches the Timeless Fundamentals of Leadership". Hachette Book Group USA. ISBN 9780446402545.
  7. Jim Betts (November 18, 2009). "A Friday Fight in the Tunnel". (University of Michigan).
  8. "Earns Trophy". Earns Trophy. April 26, 1970.,4098845&dq=jim-betts+michigan&hl=en.
  9. "The Meyer Morton Award". University of Michigan. Retrieved December 11, 2012.
  10. "North Squad Announced For Blue-Gray Contest". Gadsden Times (AP story). December 13, 1970.,1923909&dq=jim-betts+michigan&hl=en.
  11. Jim McGregor (December 28, 1970). "Blue-Grey Game Tonight May Be Offensive Show". The Times-News (UPI story).,2374073&dq=jim-betts+michigan&hl=en.
  12. "Pros seek 'sleepers'". Star-News (UPI story). January 29, 1971.,4550615&dq=jim-betts+michigan&hl=en.
  13. "Betts signs with Jets". The Michigan Daily (AP story): p. 10. May 6, 1971.,157859&dq=jim-betts+michigan&hl=en.
  14. "Sports In Brief". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. May 6, 1971.,1870127&dq=jim-betts+michigan&hl=en.
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Jim Betts is academic aid". The Michigan Daily: p. 12. August 16, 1974.,4060040&dq=jim-betts+michigan&hl=en.
  16. "Collegians Eye Early Crack at Pros". Reading Eagle (AP story). December 7, 1977.,3876782&dq=jim-betts+michigan&hl=en.
  17. Bill Dothat (March 19, 2000). "Riviera Beach's Black Areas May Get Pizza Service". The Palm Beach Post.
  18. "Minority Areas Drawing Retailers: The Opening of Domino's Pizza in the Black Community of Washington Shores Is Another Sign That Established Retailers Are Going to Where the Buying Power Is to Make Shopping More Convenient". Orlando Sentinel: p. B1. August 19, 1998.'S+PIZZA+IN+THE+BLACK+COMMUNITY+OF+WASHINGTON+SHORES+IS+ANOTHER+SIGN+THAT+ESTABLISHED+RETAILERS+ARE+GOING+TO+WHERE+THE+BUYING+POWER+IS+TO+MAKE+SHOPPING+MORE+CONVENIENT.&pqatl=google.
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