- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Detroit Lions reporter
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan made a profit on its trip to the Allstate Sugar Bowl in January, but not as much as one might think.
While the Big Ten conference received $6.1 million for an at-large BCS team and gave Michigan $2.05 million for travel and other expenses for its participation in the game, that was not Michigan's profit on the game.
After expenses were taken out and the Big Ten absorbed the cost of the university's unsold tickets, Michigan brought in $78,916 in profit from its trip to New Orleans, according to records received by WolverineNation as part of a Freedom of Information request.
That number does not include the revenue the school will receive from the Big Ten's shared bowl revenue plan, which splits all Big Ten bowl revenue equally by 12, depending on financial integration plans for new members. If the bowl revenue is split equally this season, Michigan will receive around $2,637,500 for its share based on the Big Ten's total bowl revenue minus what it gives the schools in expenses and then dividing that number by 12. The Big Ten does not release specific percentages for its members other than saying it is divided equally.
Michigan associate athletic director for media relations Dave Ablauf said the school will not receive its revenue shares from the league until after the end of the academic year and did not know what the exact figures would be.
In some ways, the school wasn't expected to turn a profit on the $2.05 million allotted for the game as Ablauf said in an email, the generated profit came from saving money on travel.
"We did not spend all of our travel allotment," Ablauf wrote. "That is the figure once you exclude the tickets absorbed by the conference."
Michigan spent $423,574 to transport the 379 people comprising the team and staff to New Orleans for the game, $297,183 for the 319 members of the band and cheerleading squads and $16,470 to transport 31 members of the school's "official party," which Ablauf wrote comprised "non-athletic department personnel: Regents, president and university officials."
The total transportation costs reached $737,227.
The university also spent $809,406 on meals and lodging for the entire traveling party, including $612,099 for team and staff, $149,883 for cheerleaders and band, and $47,424 for the 31-person official party.
When it came to ticketing, there were six different prices for tickets -- each with a $5 increase from what Michigan paid the bowl to what fans were charged to account for shipping and handling charges, Ablauf said. The small price bump, Ablauf said, is not uncommon with schools around the country.
The university made a commitment to purchase 17,500 tickets and ended up turning 3,024 tickets back to the Big Ten as unsold, including 23 at the $180 pricing, 49 at the $170 pricing, 130 at the $150 pricing, 244 at the $140 pricing and 2,578 at the $120 pricing. In total, the Big Ten -- spread amongst its member institutions -- ate $375,490 of ticket costs for Michigan.
Michigan sold 12,848 tickets and absorbed the cost of tickets for the band, cheerleaders and others before handing the metaphorical 3,024 tickets back. The conference does not receive the actual tickets.
This has been the way the conference has operated for years, Big Ten deputy commissioner Brad Traviolia said.
"The amount that is unsold will be syndicated or shared across the conference," Traviolia said. "So Michigan and all the member institutions across the Big Ten will share in that loss so it isn't just on one team, the bowl participating team."
Besides the travel and ticketing, Michigan listed expenditures of $14,080 on entertainment, $7,200 on promotion, $11,852 on equipment and supplies, $14,552 on practice and laundry expenses and $7,494 on administrative fees during the trip.
The school also spent $95,893 on awards as part of the Sugar Bowl.
"The figure is a combination of items: apparel, plaques, watches, rings and pendants," Ablauf wrote in an email. "These are bowl gifts that we as an institution can provide to our players, coaches, managers, trainers, support staff and athletic staff."
In all, Michigan spent $2,346,574 for the Sugar Bowl including the monies the conference absorbed to buy back the unsold tickets.
After the Big Ten absorbed the unsold tickets, that allowed Michigan to turn the profit in New Orleans, where the Wolverines beat Virginia Tech, 23-20.
Oftentimes bowl trips are financial busts, but Michigan turned a small profit from its Sugar Bowl triumph.