Some of you may have seen the recent 60 Minutes piece on the business side of college football. It caught my interest because it was mostly focused on the University of Michigan football program. I guess it’s no surprise that like other universities, Michigan relies on its football program to generate the money it needs to pay for most of the rest of its athletics program.

According to the 60 Minutes reporter, the current U-M athletic department budget is $133 million, which funds 29 different student sports. Of this total budget, about 75 percent — more than $90 million — is brought in by the U-M football program. In addition, the Michigan athletics department contributes more than $1.5 million a year to the university’s M-PACT program, which provides grant assistance to low-income Michigan residents.

I have always enjoyed attending Michigan football games, and I think it is an important part of the student experience. I know it was for me and my classmates. While it may be a challenge for the players to balance their athletic and academic commitments, it seems that many are able to successfully do so. I look forward to keeping up with the team, even if I am unable to attend games in the future.

– Bob

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2 Responses to “University of Michigan Football as Business”

  1. 1 Larry Janning

    Hi Dr. Beyster!

    I continue to enjoy your blog!

    Your story about UM football reminded me of back in the 1990’s when you approved my Division to buy a Silicon Graphics computer to do some computer modeling and simulation of offensive vs. defensive forces. We were doing object-based modeling where we described elements of both sides by their performance specs. At the time, I thought it was a great application for football, so I took the concept to a local NFL franchise. The idea was to characterize each player (both offensive and defensive), then run plays against each other on the computer to determine which would be most effective - then practice those plays for the upcoming game.

    Unfortunately, I didn’t do a very good job of marketing because the idea never caught on. I later proposed the same concept to one of the TV networks whereby after the completion of an unsuccessful play on their broadcast, they could run a simulated play to show what-if’s. The idea was to provide additional entertainment value to the audience. That idea flopped too. :)
    Those were fun days - seemed like any good idea was worth trying. Thanks for making them real for us dreamers!


  2. 2 Dr. Beyster

    Larry: Thank you for reminding me about your attempt to apply computer modeling technology to NFL football. Entrepreneurial experiments like that were what SAIC was all about. It was definitely a unique place and a special time of my life. Thanks for your post. — Bob

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