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Harbaugh’s camp tour will cost UM about $350K

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Jim Harbaugh works at a camp at Pearl High School in Pearl, Miss.

Ann Arbor – Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said football coach Jim Harbaugh’s ambitious summer satellite camp tour that will cover much of the country and stops in Australia and American Samoa, will cost the athletic department roughly $350,000.

Manuel, speaking to reporters after presenting the 2017 athletic department budget to the UM Regents on Thursday, said that total could drop to $300,000 or increase to $400,000 when the travel is finally completed.

Manuel and Harbaugh did work on a budget before launching the tour that officially kicked off June 1 and will end later this month. With any budget, Manuel said, there are additions and subtractions during the process.

“It’s always an estimate in terms of cost, but it will come in somewhere around there, what we’re projecting, somewhere around that $350 (thousand),” Manuel said.

Manuel, a former Michigan football player and athletics administrator who has been Michigan’s athletic director the last three months, was on board with Harbaugh’s second summer camp tour from the beginning. He insists it is not about recruiting for Michigan but about sharing the game with youth around the country.

“I don’t want to minimize a $350,000 expense, or whatever it will come out to be,” Manuel said Thursday. “For me, it’s an investment we’re making in our program, in the things he’s doing with the kids and our coaches are doing across the country.

“Given the amount of effort they’re putting in, the amount of contact they’re making with kids across the country, getting them excited about football … teaching them the game the right way, talking to them about not only football but the need to perform academically, to me it’s a great investment in what we need to be doing.”

Michigan athletics projects near-$1M surplus for 2017

Manuel takes exception to those who think this satellite camp tour is a way to promote Harbaugh and to increase Michigan’s visibility in recruiting. He also said many of the camps Harbaugh and his staff are working are to assist old friends in the sport.

“The expectations that I’ve put on it are really (from) talking to him about what he’s doing and why he’s doing it and understanding his perspective on it,” Manuel said. “So for example, some of the camps he added were camps of people he’s known for a long time that he’s close with, he has relationships with. He wants to help them help the kids in those particular areas, so we’ve invested in him being able to do that. The image that is projected out there in general is that Jim is doing all of these, like nobody’s contacting him. A lot of these choices that he’s made is because he wants to assist.

“I’ve said all along and I’ll continue to say, and Jim has said since he’s been out there: He knows 95 percent, maybe more, of the kids we want to recruit at the University of Michigan.

“I’m willing to invest because Michigan has a role of really supporting and promoting what we think is the right thing to do. He’s out there teaching the game the right way with our coaches. He’s investing so much of his time and so much of his staff’s time to do this.

“I fight every time I’m asked about this idea that it’s just about recruiting and it’s just about Jim. He doesn’t need that if it was just about him. We don’t need that to know who we’re going to recruit.”

Manuel said he hasn’t concerned himself with any of the side drama like the public sparring over the camps between Harbaugh and Alabama coach Nick Saban, who called the satellite camp environment the “wild, wild West.”

“I don’t pay that much attention,” Manuel said. “I don’t like it, I don’t dislike it. I’m neutral to it, because it’s not, I think, the intent of anyone to bump heads about this. The intent is to focus on these kids, promotion of the game, teaching the right way. If that’s a part of it, if it happens along the way, and it happened, it sizzled down. It’s not something we need to focus on.”