Investment, Growth Key for Future of U-M Athletics

June 21, 2013

By Dave Brandon | Courtesy, Brandon’s Blog


Michigan Athletics tradition was established by delivering championships and setting the standard for university athletic programs more than a century ago.

Our football team has the most wins in college football. The Victors is recognized as one the greatest fight songs. The winged helmets and the Big House are immediately recognized as symbols of our university without having to see or hear anything more.

With 900-plus student athletes and 31 sports, there is much more.

We are the first athletic program east of the Mississippi to win an NCAA softball title; our ice hockey program and men’s swimming diving teams have won more NCAA championships than any university in their sport, DeHart Hubbard was the first African-American to win an Olympic gold medal in an individual event, we have more Big Ten titles than any school in the conference (by a margin of MANY!) and the list goes on.

Our accomplishments are many, and we sustain this position without a need for university subsidies or student fees. U-M is just one of 23 athletic departments considered self-sufficient by the NCAA’s current benchmarks.

To stay at the top, we must grow and remain financially self-supporting. This is a guiding principle we have committed to as we develop our annual “game plan” — which is the strategy we follow and objectives we will hold ourselves accountable for as we work through the academic year.

When we say we are self-sufficient, it means we pay our own way even within the University of Michigan. Not only do we pay for all of the goods, insurance, administrative and facility services U-M supplies, we contribute nearly $2 million to the University’s General Fund to help support the campus community.
And each year as we award 350-plus athletic scholarships, we pay the full cost of these scholarships covering books, tuition, and room and board to central campus. This year it is a cost of $18.3 million in our athletic budget.

As the athletic department works to upgrade our facilities, the university is also working to upgrade its facilities. Commencing in fiscal year 2016, we will begin an annual commitment of $1.8 million to help fund the Rec Sports/Unions infrastructure renewal project.

This past Thursday, we presented to the U-M Board of Regents a $146.4 million budget for the fiscal year 2013-14. We hope to achieve an approximate $9 million in operating surplus. If we accomplish this, it doesn’t mean the Michigan Athletic Department is awash in money. We will invest the budgeted operating surplus for ongoing capital needs and facility renewal projects — as well as the eventual payback of our nearly $235 million in existing debt.

Nearly a century ago, Fielding H. Yost developed facilities and an infrastructure for Michigan Athletics that paved the way for success in the 20th century.

Now, the responsibility of the future of the University of Michigan Athletic Department lies in our hands. Now, more than ever, financial management and our relationships and trust with the university governing board, faculty, staff, students and community leaders is critical to our success.

Improved facilities, training, and academic support will directly impact the welfare and success of our student-athletes and the future of this athletic program.

We appreciate the investment that our fans and donors continue to make in Michigan Athletics. Their investment and sound business practices will enable our student-athletes and our sports to develop, grow and succeed throughout the 21st century.

And when their grandchildren and all future Wolverine fans watch their favorite sports, they will enjoy the great academic and championship tradition of the University of Michigan as we do today.

Go Blue!


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