Lions activating rookie WR Williams and DE Okwara for Jaguars game

Michigan athletics projects $2.5M surplus

By Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Michigan's athletic-department budget expects a $2.5-million surplus for fiscal year 2019.

Ann Arbor — For the second straight year, Michigan’s athletics department projects an operating budget surplus of $2.5 million for fiscal year 2019.

Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel presented the budget at the Michigan Board of Regents meeting Thursday afternoon.

The department projects revenues of nearly $188 million, including a significant boost from the Big Ten financial distributions. Michigan will receive $52.1 million in Big Ten conference disbursements.

The Big Ten’s new television football and basketball agreements last year gave Michigan a big chunk from the conference. Michigan received $51.1 million in conference disbursements, a significant increase from the $36.3 million in 2017.  The Big Ten moved to multiple television partners in the new deal with ESPN/ABC and Fox.

Manuel discussed some of the budget changes from last year.

Michigan’s football team will play an additional home game this year, so there is a significant increase in spectator admissions from last year. Spectator admissions for 2018, which features a seven-game home schedule, is $46.475 million, while it increases to $52.389 next year because of eight home games.

“You can see the impact of what one additional home game means to us,” Manuel said.

There is a noticeable drop on the “other” revenue line in the budget. For fiscal year 2018, Michigan projected nearly $16 million, including the neutral site game Texas in 2017 and the Amazon Prime series that focused on the football team.

The projection for 2019 in “other” income is $7.9 million. Manuel said that’s in part because the Wolverines will not play a neutral-site game.

Spring trip planning

Michigan’s trip to Paris, paid for by big-money alums Bobby Kotick and Don Graham, cost about the same as the trip to Rome last year that Kotick sponsored.

“Probably somewhere around $800, $900,000,” Manuel said Thursday, when asked what the Paris excursion cost. 

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said recently the team will visit South Africa next spring.

“We’re working on it,” Manuel said. “I don’t know what confirm means with you guys. We haven’t booked any tickets, there’s no hotel rooms that are secured. We haven’t hired any tours.”

It admittedly is a more ambitious, longer journey for the team.

“That’s why we’re working on trying to figure all the details out,” he said. “We talked about this three years ago when we first started talking about doing these things. South Africa came up in conversation as it related to a particular possible site. We’re still working on it.”

Feeling blue

Michigan Stadium’s field got a facelift with new turf, but has made a splash in a big way with blue end zones and Michigan spelled out in maize. 

“The feedback I’ve gotten is great,” Manuel said. 

He said the idea was presented to him and Harbaugh separately. 

“Probably thinking one of us would (say), ‘No way,’” Manuel said. “(I was asked), ‘Hey what do you all think about going with a blue end zone?’ I was like, ‘Wow, that looks pretty good.’”

Similar end zones have been used during Michigan bowl games, so this isn’t completely new.

“It looks great,” he said. “I’m glad people like it. I hope people like it.”