Taking an entire football team across the pond isn’t cheap. Just ask Michigan, which has now done it three times, the latest coming in May to South Africa for a jaunt that cost a pretty penny for Wolverines donors footing the bill.
According to records obtained by the Detroit Free Press, the final tally for UM’s visit to South Africa was some $1.19 million:
Michigan brought 98 student-athletes, two student managers, 34 coaches/staffers and two donors on the trip, according to records obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request. Fourteen spouses and children of coaches/staffers also came on the trip, but their travel costs were not paid by the school or with donor money.
The breakdown of expenses was $1,154,830 paid to the travel agency organizing the trip and $38,241 listed as “other trip costs.”
While the school itself likely wouldn’t have had an issue picking up that kind of check given the $56 million they have coming from the Big Ten in 2019, donors made sure that was not an issue for the bean counters in Ann Arbor. It’s been part of a rather exorbitant run by Jim Harbaugh and company in recent years, including spending some $350,000 for spring practice at IMG Academy in 2016, an $800,000 excursion to Italy in 2017, and a $1.007 million jaunt across the pond to France last year.
Add it all up though, and the figure only barely approaches half of Harbaugh’s yearly salary.
While the final number for the South African excursion is notable, the Michigan coach’s ideas for 2020 are also noteworthy for their relative restraint for staying within the confines of the nation’s borders.
“(Maybe) Washington D.C. I’d like to go to the Supreme Court, the halls of Congress, the Smithsonian,” Harbaugh said. “Or Gettysburg. Or we could go to San Diego, do some SEAL team training and (eventually) go on to Pearl Harbor.”
At least Michigan won’t have to worry about players getting passports next year and some donors can enjoy their wallets being a little fatter than the years before.