William A. Sederburg

When the Utah Utes play Michigan's Wolverines in their season opener Saturday, Utah's new commissioner of higher education, who hails from Michigan and was recently a Utah Valley Wolverine, will be wearing red.

The turncoat said his recent admission into the Crimson Club at the University of Utah signifies his allegiance to Utah schools and withdraws him from years of history in the state of Michigan, where he served as a state senator for 12 years and also worked at Ferris State University and Michigan State University. Before being named to Utah's top higher-education post, William A. Sederburg was serving as president of Utah Valley University.

"I was not always appreciated on the University of Michigan campus, because of the rivalry between the (Michigan State) Spartans and University of Michigan," said Sederburg, adding that students once hanged him in effigy when budget requests didn't align in the state Legislature there.

"The rivalry continues," he said.

Sederburg said he's always supported college and university athletics and hopes for a Ute win in Saturday's 1:30 p.m. game, played in Ann Arbor, Mich.

"When they're playing the University of Michigan, I'll definitely want to cheer for the Utes," he said. "The Wolverines are always such a dominant team."

Although in-state rivalries aren't his thing, Sederburg said he'll probably end up supporting each Utah school's athletic program, via their booster programs.

"I'm sure I'll be an Aggie too before long."

However, he hopes membership to other schools' clubs aren't as pricey as the Crimson Club. Sederburg's $500 membership donation allows him various benefits, including access to the U.'s tennis courts, which the avid tennis player plans on using frequently, now that he's moved to Salt Lake City.

Sederburg's commitment to support the Utes this week is the first of its kind from a state commissioner, and although he admits it might not be good strategy, he's a believer in the spirit of the team.

"I do think athletics are an important part of higher education for the spirit it brings to a school and the fans," he said. "I like athletics, and I think it plays a critical role. I just want to be part of the action."

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