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Posted on Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 11:02 a.m.

Canceled: Big House Big Heart race forced out of Michigan Stadium

By Kellie Woodhouse


Runners slap the "Go Blue" banner at the end of the Big House Big Heart Run in 2011.

Joseph Tobianski |

An annual fundraising race that loops through University of Michigan and downtown Ann Arbor and ends at the city's most iconic landmark, Michigan Stadium, is canceled.


Andres Tamez and Jackie Conliffe, of Ann Arbor, slap the overhead banner as they finish the 5-kilometer race at the 50-yard line of Michigan Stadium during the Big House Big Heart run in April 2012.

The seventh-annual 'Big House Big Heart' run, planned for Spring 2013, is canceled because the Michigan athletic department will no longer allow runners to complete the race at Michigan Stadium.

"It is with sadness that we announce that University of Michigan Athletics has decided that Big House Big Heart no longer fits into its charitable mission and therefore the race cannot finish in the Big House," Big House Big Heart coordinators wrote in an email to supporters.

Associate athletic director Dave Ablauf, who handles media and communication for the department, said the run no longer fit into the department's charitable mission.

"Really the decision in the end came down to our external focus," said Ablauf. The department announced last month that it would begin partnering with the Special Olympics of Michigan for community service efforts. The first event of that partnership is the "Polar Plunge" at Michigan Stadium on Feb. 23, 2013.

That partnership, Ablauf said, has become the department's priority. Ablauf said the run had become "a very challenging event ... to fit into our stadium."


People line up for late registration during The Big House Big Heart run in Ann Arbor in 2011.

Joseph Tobianski I

"We have our own private rental program, we're doing stuff with the Special Olympics and we have a lot of things we do now in the that stadium," Ablauf offered.

The run has taken place for the past six years and includes a 10-kilometer, 5K and a 1-mile run. In 2011 roughly 15,000 runners raised $1.5 million for 175 nonprofits, up from the $172,000 raised by approximately 4,000 participants during the event's first year.

The 2013 race was planned for Sunday, April 14, 2013.

"Priorities do change with administration changes," staff from Champions For Charity, which coordinated the Big House run, wrote in an email, adding that, in past races, runners were "diligent to leave the stadium in better shape than when we entered."

Last year, the event was moved from the fall to the spring at the request of the athletic department.

Champions for Charity will continue to coordinate the June Ann Arbor Marathon, which debuted in the city last year. A representative of the organization said staffers haven't decided whether or not to replace the Big House Big Heart run with another event.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 6:57 p.m.

The athletic department is about nothing but money. Pathetic and sad.

Dan Rotello

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 12:30 p.m.

What a disgrace! You bring shame to the entire Big Ten. But it's U of M, so I shoudn't be surprised.

David Campfield

Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 11:14 p.m.

It really just makes it that much easier to mock Michigan.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

Apparently, a lot of people can't read. Champions for Charity is not a charity organization. They are a for profit company. They organize races and make money from them. In addition to that income, they give a portion of the proceeds to charity. They also work with local charities to put together teams to raise money from non-entry fees. To those of you questioning where the transparency is...they're a for profit company. They do not have to release their financials! I've run races before that had $75 entry fees and nothing went to charity, so stop pointing fingers. To those commenting about hefty profits, you obviously have no idea what it takes to put on an event of this size. They obviously had to pay to rent the Big House according to the article. Then you've got permits, police, paramedics, timing (generally charged per entrant), food and drink (for 15,000) people, t-shirts, awards, and more. None of these things are free. I'm sure they get sponsors to help out with some of these costs, but they no doubt still have major expenses. I'm sure they still make money, but that's not really the point. The point is that the AD decided that 2 million dollars for local charities over the last couple years wasn't that important.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 3:23 a.m.

Agree and thanks for making it clear. As a runner I've found that "Champions for Charity" events seem to be over priced for what they are.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 7:27 a.m.

There's much to be said about this... and probably, all of it will be. ;-)

Bob Cain

Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 2:16 a.m.

I feel a need to chime in again on this. I have read ALL the comments. In summary: The community demands a better explanation of why it was canceled. The community is also GUESSING that the reason could be because there is a problem with Champions for Charity (CFC) the "for profit" charity that organizes the run. Maybe Kelly Woodhouse now realizes that she has opened up a GIANT can of worms!!! ........and will follow up her article -- and go directly to Dave Brandon so he can explain this decision AND go to the CFC people for a open tranparent discussion on how the revenues are allocated for their charity.

Kristi Charles

Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 1:35 a.m.

Maybe that school down in Columbus could host?


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 1:19 a.m.

Who cares who makes money off this or not. It is a public facility. We all own it. Lots of people want to get a little thrill out of running through the stadium. So let them. It does not need to be tied to a charity. It is fun and we need more fun in our lives. We have given control over the stadium to one person. He does not own it we do. He is supposed to manage it in the best interests of the the owners. This is not working out like that. Try asking for the run for the sake of fun for all those interested.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 12:51 a.m.

My first 5k was the BHBH. I have worked in Ann Arbor for 25 years and have always supported UofM. This outrage falls right in line with an arrogant sports program that has been on a steady downhill slide for several years now, combined with the fact that they have ruined the Big House by turning it into some sort of demented temple. Now, they boot an exceptional charity event like BHBH? I for one have had enough of this school's arrogance. I will no longer support them, buy their apparel, tickets for any of their games, watch UofM games, or give any kind of discount to their workers and students in my business until they decide to change their mind about this. This is a total boycott! I urge the rest of you to do the same.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 3:07 p.m.

The impact will be startling!


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 12:29 a.m.

How about we organize a vigilante event on the opening day of football. Everyone donates $5 to charity to run and not go to the football game...however we will run past the stadium in large groups. I will get the protest march permit. Perhaps special olympics should have joined the MANY charities involved with BHBH (I'm not down on Special Olympics here, fyi) and the U could have given a little heart to everyone one day a year. What a shame for the AD to oust such a great event. Any takers?

Elspeth Doe

Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 11:58 p.m.

I think this is an EXCELLENT IDEA. This is protest at its finest.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 12:21 a.m.

let's open the stadium for weddings and rentals, but close it off for a well-established charity run because it doesn't fit our mission... let's install millions of dollars worth of lights for night games but then never have any night games (except once) --- The Brandon Difference.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 12:18 a.m.

AD David "No nightgames" Brandon is about as much fun as a box filled with old mismatched socks.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 12:02 a.m.

This appears to be another example of the changes we are seeing of the direction of Brandon's goals for The Michigan Athletic Department. Michigan is a public institution, including the athletic department, that should serve all.... not the bottom line of his financial plan. When the "winds shift," as they will, Mr Brandon will find his alienation of Michigan and Community people will leave him out in the cold ... perhaps in a very cold tank.

Evan Smith

Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 11:44 p.m.

I hope that there was a legitimate reason for this. Based on the article, it seems like a very bad decision.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 11:20 p.m.

The UM can only do on charitable event-- this is totally disappointing. When I looked at how much the run collected and wehre it all went. Come on Big M get with the program. I totally love Special Olympics having two grandsons who participate in the organization, but if the UM had a Big Heart they would do both.

Art Vandelay

Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 11:07 p.m.

For those of you that think the Highfields are getting rich off BHBH you clearly didn't read the other article that states that neither of them takes a paycheck from Champions for Charity and that, after all the races they did last year, they showed a net gain of about $19,000. You should also know that they are big supporters of Michigan athletics and gave enough in the Crisler renovation to get a room named for them. It's awful that Brandon and company have not only upset a substantial donor but are literally taking away millions from local charities with no logical explanation.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 11:27 p.m.

The general explanation is that UM partnering with Special Olympics is a mutually benefitting one for them that involves much larger amounts of money and PR than this racing event... When has UM ever been in it for the community good outside their own moat?....


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 10:31 p.m.

Yikes - tons and tons of judgment here without knowing much by way of the facts. I've been hearing complaints about Champions for Charity for the past several years. They do not provide any type of breakdown about where their entrance fees are going or their financials in general. They are a for-profit organization in the guise of a non-profit, and our group for one decided not to deal with them because they lacked transparency. I also found their email incredibly self-serving (but don't forget to go to their other event...). I like the idea of focusing on the Special Olympics -- they are forthright and a true nonprofit. But more importantly, I think folks need to consider that there were some issues going on here.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 12:46 a.m.

According to Champions of Charity "offered to give UM Athletics the race if they would continue to allow it to finish in the stadium. " So it would seem the onus was still on U of M to make this even go forward regardless of how how they felt about Champions of Charity.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 10:07 p.m.

Why does it have to end at the Big House? How about the golf course or Pioneer High School acreage. Sounds like much to do about nothing.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 2:45 a.m.

Nearly 15,000 people sign up for the various Dexter Ann Arbor events, and those just end at the corner of Main and Ann. I wonder what percentage of runners raise money for charities and how many just run to finish? I've known both.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 3 p.m.

If this really has to do with charity then run! If it has to be an "experience" about the Big House, don't. Solved.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 11:53 p.m.

It's special and a draw of thousands of people when it ends by going through the tunnel and onto the field.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 10:56 p.m.

15,000 people aren't going to sign up for a race that ends in the Pioneer parking lot. Finishing in the Big House was the novelty that allowed for such huge numbers.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 10:04 p.m.

This is entirely on Dave Brandon's shoulders. To quote Dave "Brand" himself, the model for big time athletics is "broken." (See Brandon's airy, almost breathless interview on 60 Minutes 3 weeks ago, at Brandon curiously never explains, during that hyperventilated interview, what he means by that. But this decision is a good partial explanation. Brandon's sole interest is to maximize gross revenue. So he doesn't like donating a small portion of Big House time to this long-established road race. It's just Gross Revenue that he's worried about. Next time you see Brandon, ask him three questions: 1) what did you mean when you told 60 Min. that the model for big time athletics is "broken" and 2) What needs to be done to fix it; 3) Why aren't you doing anything to fix it? The real reason he's doing nothing to fix it is he's so blinded by his thirst for maximizing gross revenue, even at the cost of these kinds of lovely "buy local", home-grown road races which finish at the Big House. Really now, Dave, can't you do without the hourly gross rate for a couple hours on a Sunday? It's time to stop the worship of this pizza huckster, and throw him out. Any old bumbling fool can make money at Michigan.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 11:10 p.m.

The race had positive vibes throughout the country. I, for one, have worn BHBH running shirts in other cities (such as the Chicago and Boston areas) and also en route places such as rest stops on the New York Thruway. I see now that there aren't "licensed" tags (at least not on the running shirt I'm looking at now). Would licensing fees make a difference?


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 9:58 p.m.

This is the worst PR decision the University has made in years. It's hard to believe Dave Brandon initiated this. He's too bright. There has to be more to this situation than what we know.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 9:37 p.m.

Selfish, stingy, self-absorbed …what's good for U of M is only good for U of M. Why don't folks get that


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 9:36 p.m.

Well last time I checked the race could still be run, it simply just can't begin and end IN the Stadium. CofC could still put on this race and if the community feels so strongly about running "for the charities" then people should still support it regardless of their personal benefit to finish in the football stadium. Yes the Stadium was a large "selling" point for the race but seriously if this community feels so strongly about the benefit of this race to the city and the benefactors then CofC shouldn't just throw in the towel and say "quits" because the Stadium isn't accessible, no?


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 9:20 p.m.

I was unable to find financials for Champions for Charity. Their website does not provide much information on the organization. If you go to the state website and look up the LLC, you will find two organizations. Champions for Charity LLC, which is apparently a normal (for profit) limited liability corporation and Champions for Charity Foundation LLC, which is a non-profit. Champions for Charity LLC apparently sets up these races and collects registration fees from runners. Then they also take 8% of charitable donations (in exchange for collecting them). It is not clear what they do with these fees, although they do say "a portion" of the fees are deductible as they go to charity. How much? Entry fees for BHBH last year must have approached $500,000 ($32-39 X 15,000 runners). I do not know where Champions for Charity Foundation fits in. Champions for Charity should clarify it's profit/non-profit status and provide some financials.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 2:43 a.m.

Yeah, I'd love to know what happens to that 8% on top of all the registration fees...

Bob Cain

Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 9:18 p.m.

"Dig his grave" is a bad use of words. I apologize. ....his silence will hurt his "PR image."


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 1:04 a.m.

no Bob, you had it right the first time.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 9:17 p.m.

Boo, U-M!

Bob Cain

Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 9:15 p.m.

"Shame on you Dave Brandon" is everyone's comment. Unless he comes up with a more plausable explanation for cancelling this run, this shame will be his to bear forever. We will never forget this act (if he chooses not to speak out on the REAL reason for cancellation). His silence will dig his grave.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 9:01 p.m.

...another PR blunder by the man who hates the band. Get real D.B. i thought were you smart or something like that....


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 9 p.m.

Not a good decision Branden. To just say it doesn't fit our charitable goals is not what people want to hear. Either produce a good explanation of why this decision was made that people can identify with or don't make these kinds of decisions. This and the Band decision at Dallas are souring perceptions of the current athletic administration. I ran that race in the past and from what I can tell it was good PR for Michigan. It gave people a real value (i.e., being able to run through the tunnel and out on the field).

Ren Farley

Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 9:04 p.m.

Has anyone seen an audited financial statement from Champions for Charity - the organization that owns the Big Heart Big House run? I think they are a for profit organization. The assertion of raising 3.5 million for charities seems implausible. Most who organize runs give one or two dollars of a runner's entry fee to a charity. A few runners - but very few - add a contribution to their entry fee. Perhaps some financial officers of the university have seen the official financial records of the organizers. It would be helpful if Champions for Charity had their auditor post their financial statement on his or her website.

Momma G

Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 8:51 p.m.

How can they justify this decision? I'll be emailing the president MarySue Coleman and Brandon to let them know how ridiculous this decision is. How often is that costly stadium used and for good community reasons?

Paul Taylor

Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 8:49 p.m.

Too bad they can't finish at Rynearson Stadium. Had they considered that?


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 8:40 p.m.

Weasel words.

Alan Caldwell

Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 8:33 p.m.

How does this help the UM with relations with the local outside community? Really unfortunate decision on their part. This was a really neat event that made us locals feel part of the University. I ran the 10K last year and then walked the 5K -- it was great fun, and we raised a lot of money for local charities! Very sad.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 11:23 p.m.

UM has shown time and time again for the past 80 years that they have no interest in relations with the local outside community. Just saying.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 8:28 p.m.

Robert K Rademacher, Associate Athletic Director for Facilities and Operations , E-Mail: , Work734/647-9763 .


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 8:11 p.m.

It was a fun race, sorry to see it go. Be interesting to hear the real reason why the cancellation.

Roy Munson

Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 8:10 p.m.

Brandon is missing another great opportunity to perform another shakedown. He can stand at the tunnel and collect a $100 bill from each runner. It would fit into the plans then.

Fat Bill

Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 8:10 p.m.

Maybe time to let um go us for the property and start paying taxes on it...


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 8:02 p.m.

No $$ for the Athletic Dept most likely out of this race and certainly not the PR value of teaming up with the Special Olympics. Too bad this race was cancelled. However, I do think A2 needs to have better coordination between all "race" events in the city, so there is not a lot of overlap especially with scheduling, and that events are spaced out over several months and not back to back. The Big Heart run was successful and it's too bad UM didn't want to be part of it.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 7:45 p.m.

I am saddened by this decision at U of M. But instead of just (and maybe you're not) complaining here but notify your charity and U of M. If pressure is placed on U of M maybe (and that is a big MAYBE) they will rethink this choice. That is my plan for my charity. If I am not mistaken U of M is helping with the state wide Special Olympics, I could be wrong. If they are helping state wide, how about local charities.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 2:41 a.m.

You do realize there are local participants in Special Olympics, don't you?

Rod Johnson

Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 7:43 p.m.


4 Fingers

Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 7:40 p.m.

There are three sides to every story, My side, Your side, and the truth. I personally would like to hear from the UM Athletic dept and Champions for Charity. I've heard good and bad about how much of that money goes to charity and how much they pay themselves for holding these events. I wonder if either party got sick of dealing with the other. Who knows? Anyway, I'd rather see this event held than that lousy, poorly planned marathon they did last year.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 7:58 p.m.

CFC did list in a multi part comment above to what entities recieved money and it is impressive. They made a generic but no doubt impressive sum of hundreds of thousands of dollars. We probably won't get much more out of the U-M Athletic Department except for the Special Olympics tie in thay stated.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 7:34 p.m.

15,0000 runners x $32 registration fee (from BHBH registration page) = $480,000. Anyone know where THIS money goes? It's not part of the fundraising that individuals do for non-profits.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 7:32 p.m.

The first race to finish inside Michigan Stadium was on Sep 7,1980. It was the called The Big 10 as it was 10 miles in distance. Bo Schembechler was furious about the event finishing on "Canham's Carpet" that the following year, the finish was outside the stadium. I ran in the then intital race. My next Big 10 was in 1983 and that one finished on the track at Ferry Field. I was living out of town and coming back to Ann Arbor to run in race and visit old friends was a very big deal back then. The point is, there have been various times when a running event finished inside the stadium but it has been hard pressed to last more than a few years. I ran in the 2010 and 2011 BHBH 10K event and did not part take this year. I have mixed emotions about the the event being cancelled. Bottom line: it is not the first time and perhaps yet another running event will rise from the ashes to have a finish inside Michigan Stadium. I suspect, it will have to wait until Dave Brandon moves on. The event was getting too big and it was taking a lot folks well over two hours to complete a 10K event. That's at a 20 minute per mile walking pace. Police are needed to keep traffic off the route for a very long time for an event that should not last that long. The Champions for Charity folks have gotten very big and I would like to see transparency in how profitable they are. If the Michigan Athletic Department wants to back Special Olympics, so be it. Having a Polar Plunge event is manageable vs the 11 to 15000 runners. I am OK with this Athletic Department's decision.

C.C. Ingersoll

Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 11:07 p.m.

Thank you for posting another side to this issue; it puts the UofM's decision into a bit of perspective. I hope that BHBH can find another way to make their charity run work and soon! (and really people.... what's with all the 'down votes' ?)

sun runner

Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 7:27 p.m.

I participated in BHBH every year of its existence and I did so specifically because the race finished inside the Big House. Every weekend presents an area runner with numerous road racing opportunities. Many of these races will have a finishing chute consisting of a few cones and a timing mat set up in a parking lot or on a road. The BHBH was DIFFERENT. It was SPECIAL. Not special enough, I guess. "That partnership, Ablauf said, has become the department's priority. Ablauf said the run had become "a very challenging event ... to fit into our stadium." The Big House handles over 100,000 people on game days. Is he really trying to make the case that having 15,000 runners and additional volunteers is somehow stressing the capabilities of the stadium?


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 10:58 p.m.

I also participated because it was special, including running through the tunnel and to the 50 yard line. Many of us are the townies who don't come here for just a few years and then leave. Besides not caring about the community and the charities, it could hurt the successor CEO and the franchisees at Domino's because (like it or not) Brandon's name is associated with Domino's by many in the community. In my opinion, it's not one of his better decisions.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 7:26 p.m.

they rent out the 50 yard line for weddings but no running on the track for charity...screwed values


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 7:39 p.m.

Weddings are private events that costs big bucks. Totally different sentimental value to the participants of such events. How about a wedding ceremony where the bride and groom are runners, and get to run through the tunnel, down the sideline to the End Zone then finish at the 50 yard line to tie the knot?


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 7:26 p.m.

I would like to thank the UM Running Club/My TeamTriumph, for making it possible for my son to take part in the BHBH race over the past several years. My son uses a wheelchair for mobility and the young men and woman from the UM Running Club gave him the joy of running the BHBH pushing him in a jogging stroller. It has been his highlight of the year. He would often send an email to his nuerologist who also ran the race, with trash talk about having a faster time. The Running Club is an awesome group of young men and woman who make a difference. It is a shame the fun and excitement has to end. One last note. Please don't blame to Special Olympics for the AD decision. The Special Olympics provides a chance to be active in sports that may not other wise be available to people with disabilities. It really shouldn't be an either/or situation.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 10:50 p.m.

It's too bad the A.D. wasn't at the races to see people of all situations participating. If he was there, there's even more that I don't like about this decision.

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 6:51 p.m.

"This story is developing" Then why run it? Where's the urgency? A half-told story is no better than TMZ bringing out the shaky-cam and chasing some attention-happy wannabe celebrity.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 2:39 a.m.

Even half-told stories get lots of comments and ad views...


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 7:49 p.m.

TV media invented "breaking news"and "developing story" because it is supposed to get yout attention and then have you, the viewer, want more.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 7:13 p.m.

Because if doesn't run it then someone else will and you will then chastise for being so slow to report such relevant news.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 6:47 p.m.

We definitely need to hear the other side of the story so we can judge the situation correctly. At the moment it makes U of M look horrible.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 12:59 a.m.

so it makes U of M look horrible. and your point is....................?


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 6:40 p.m.

I think this is a sad race to is a family fun event, great for the charities, and a fun run.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 6:30 p.m.

I don't see what the big deal is about, why cant't they just end the run somewhere else, like the parking lot at pioneer or something? what's more important, raising money for charity or ending location for the run?


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 2:38 a.m.

I am a runner. I've participated in BHBH and did fund-raising. And finishing on the 50 yard line is very cool. However, my organization decided to switch their fundraising to "Run Scream Run" in fall 2012 rather than the spring 2012 BHBH. Rolling Hills was a much more picturesque course, too (frankly, campus area streets are a yawner if you live here). My group actually raised more money than they had at fall 2011 BHBH. So I agree with the sentiment - there are other ways to raise money. If the charity is your motivation, the finish line should not be your primary focus.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 7:46 p.m.

Sorry to see the negative erplies. In fact, the initial Big 10 race in 1980 ended up finishing somewhere else the following years. History might repeat itself.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 7:24 p.m.

Actually tuesday, raising money and an end location are directly correlated.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 7:05 p.m.

You must not be a runner.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 6:49 p.m.

Being able to end your run on the field inside the stadium was a huge rush for the participants and the main point of choosing this event over others. Finishing at Pioneer or elsewhere makes it just another run so participation would go way down.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 6:38 p.m.

That was part of the attraction. Unless you are a UofM athlete, band member or other with connections, you'll never get to be on the field. It was something special. Sure, could you get people to come out and sign up even if the event ended in Pioneer's lot, sure. But it's just a parking lot, not Michigan Stadium. What's going to draw more people?


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 6:29 p.m.

I am disappointed in this decision. I did a 10k for the first time this past spring and it was an awesome route and a great place to finish. Kind of some bad PR for Dave Brandon in leiu of this being really charity focused, specifically stuff going to Motts as well.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 6:27 p.m.

While this saddens some, it thrills others -- perhaps there is hope yet that they will cancel that overwhelmingly disliked (except by the runners) Ann Arbor Marathon as well....

mike gatti

Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 12:36 a.m.

Hey Mister can we have our ball back?


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 6:10 p.m.

Wow really? No longer fit's into the charitable mission? Shame on you.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 6:03 p.m.

Change the name and run it into Rynearson. EMU and Ypsilanti would probably welcome such an event.

EMU Prof

Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 9:42 p.m.

Great idea. I hope someone with influence reads your post.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 8:43 p.m.

In a heart beat!!


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 7:43 p.m.

I hope the Champions for Charity folks read your post. Great thought.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 7:41 p.m.

That's a great idea! I'm sure EMU would jump on the opportunity. Timing-wise, it's a month before the Ypsi Color Run though. May want to change the date a bit perhaps?


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 6:25 p.m.

That's a perfectly fine idea!


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 6:23 p.m.

I'd do it. How about a run down Huron River Drive from AA to Ypsi finishing at Rynearson?

Jojo B

Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 6:08 p.m.

There's an idea! That would be great publicity for EMU and it would make U-M look like the greedy money-hungry monster. I like it.

Jojo B

Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 6:03 p.m.

Nice to see the well-oiled Brandon PR machine showing its true colors. If it doesn't bring in national publicity to the U-M athletic department empire, it isn't worth doing. *pthew!!!!!* I hope this decision brings a dark cloud of the AD. Is anybody actually happy about this decision?


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 7:41 p.m.

Life will go on. There will be another tomorrow.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 6:02 p.m.

Change the venue to Big George's Big Heart race


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 5:58 p.m.

(last one ...) For all non-profits, please consider using The Ann Arbor Marathon and the rest of the CFC 2013 events as your fund-raiser. We plan to add the "all charity" component to each event. Details will be sent with an invitation for all non profits to attend our annual Non Profit Fundraising meeting on January 15th. Champions For Charity is proud that through BHBH we have raised collectively hundreds of thousands of dollars for the UM Program For Neurology Research & Discovery, for UM Cardiovascular Center and for C.S Mott Children's Hospital as well as the Glenn E. "Bo" Schembechler Endowed Scholarship. CFC plans to continue serving the community with our upcoming events. Thank you for sharing your stories with us-your reasons for running the BHBH. You have been an inspiration to us! If you wish to contact CFC about BHBH, please email andrea@champsforcharity. If you have questions about the UM Athletic's decision, please contact them. Sincerely, Your Champions For Charity Crew


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 5:57 p.m.

(continued...) Our heartfelt thanks goes out to the thousands of people who were inspired by the race, the hundreds of local charities the race has helped by raising over $3.5 Million for them. We also want to thank the over 1,000 volunteers and committee members who have worked diligently to make this event "the premiere event in Ann Arbor", as tagged by President Mary Sue Coleman. We are so proud that Big House Big Heart touched so many lives over the years, including the many young CS Mott patients who, along with their families and representatives from nearly every UM Athletic team supporting them, did the MOTT MILE at BHBH. We appreciate the many UM coaches and student athletes who have helped with various aspects of the race. We thank the troops in Afghanistan that worked with CFC to organize the BHBH race at their camp to raise money for ALS research. We wish to thank the classes at University of Michigan spending their semester studying and helping to plan BHBH. We especially would like to thank University of Michigan's Provost, Phil Hanlon and CFO, Tim Slottow and Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, Ora Pescovitz for sponsoring the Go Maize and Go Blue Challenges for several years. They challenged each of the 19 UM Schools, colleges and all departments to compete with one another for participation in BHBH and for volunteerism. The 2012 winners were: Go Blue Award-Ross School of Business and CS Mott Pediatrics; the Go Maize Volunteerism award went to UM Athletics for the most volunteers. We would also like to thank M Healthy for using BHBH as the training event they have used as a healthy challenge. Lastly, we wish to thank our many local vendors and sponsors for your incredible support through the years. Big House Big Heart has been an amazing, inspiring event because of all of you.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 5:56 p.m.

May I post the entire letter from CFC? (We'll find out ...) The tone is interesting: Dear Big House Big Heart Participant, We apologize ahead for a lengthy email. It is with sadness that we announce that University of Michigan Athletics has decided that Big House Big Heart no longer fits into its charitable mission and therefore the race cannot finish in the Big House. At a meeting on Nov. 30 with two representatives of the Brandon Administration, Chrissi Rawak, Senior Assistant Athletic Director for Development and Rob Rademacker, Assistant Athletic Director for Facilities and Operations, we were told, "our decision was based on a several month long evaluation of our charitable work and relationships and need to streamline and organize those efforts. Unfortunately, the run doesn't fit into those plans." We made it clear how much the race means to each participant, volunteer, committee member and the many charities (over 175) which count of substantial fund-raising from BHBH. We offered to give UM Athletics the race if they would continue to allow it to finish in the stadium. CFC was not made aware of any charitable assessment process. While we were advised BHBH would again be Spring Football Game Weekend, and of the rental price of the stadium, we had been waiting for several weeks for the final "OK" so that we could open registration and begin promoting the race, as well as helping non-profits build their fund-raising teams. CFC has been very appreciative of being able to finish the BHBH race in the stadium these last 6 years and have been diligent to leave the stadium in better shape than when we entered. We know the extraordinary race finish has always been dependent on UM Athletics allowing access to the stadium and that priorities do change with administration changes.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 5:53 p.m.

Thus far, the excuses that the Athletic Department aren't adding up. Some event in February interferes with one in April? An event run by somebody else takes away some of their "focus"? Look, I absolutely believe they have the right to decide what's best for usage of the stadium. And if the field was getting damaged or whatever, fine that would be a legitimate excuse. But I'm just not seeing that in their answers right now. Like I said, something's not adding up.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 5:47 p.m.

Instead of helping give back to the local community that supports the university and puts up with their construction detours, the university would rather give to an outside agency solely. Is there no room to give locally Mr. Brandon? Sad, sad commentary on where he is taking the university.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 5:46 p.m.

Something doesn't pass the smell test on this... both sides. Will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Rick Stevens

Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 7:09 p.m.

Couldn't agree with you more ! CFC is an LLC and I've always wondered about liability insurance, etc. (a big deal). Rare to see a venture like this not a not-for-profit corporation, etc. It was surprising to many of us how Highfield got access to the Big House the first time since I knew many, many charities had tried and been rebuffed.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 5:38 p.m.

I am disappointed, but not surprised. U of M just continues to take and not give back. I hope that another school that is not so arrogant and greedy steps up to host the run. There was so much local excitement around this event. It also promoted good health for the residents. So many taxpayer dollars go to U of M. The stadium is not used enough for community or charity events when football season ends. Nice going, Brandon - taking 1.5 million from non-profits. Merry Christmas.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 5:33 p.m.

U of M just keeps making it more difficult for this alumna to justify making donations to ANY of their departments. Next time they call me asking for money, I will have one more reason to say no: I contributed the money I would have given to Michigan to the charity I run for.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 5:30 p.m.

They should change the name to "Big House No Heart".


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 12:44 a.m.

Best comment of the day.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 8:41 p.m.

That should have been the headline of this story.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 5:17 p.m.

If it costs $6,000 to rent the field for a wedding it seems like BHBH could take .007% of the $1.75 million and lease the field for a couple hours.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 5:15 p.m.

Dave Brandon is Creating the Future. And that Future doesn't include free-loading charities and local runners who don't pay the seat license fees.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 5:10 p.m.

So, the tail continues to wag the dog. That's the Michigan Difference!


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 9:22 p.m.

Love it!

Annie Arbor

Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 5:04 p.m.

I can't seem to put my hands on the Athletic Department's Charitable Mission Statement. It doesn't seem to be on their website. Maybe we should help them - "The University of Michigan strives to promote and support ____________________________________________".


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 4:57 p.m.

As townie with no real history or connection to U-M and especially U-M Football, the BHBH was the one time each year that I could appreciate having the stadium in town rather wishing it "bless" some other distant locale.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 4:56 p.m.

Shame on you, U of M Athletic Department. Shame on you!


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 4:55 p.m.

If the rationale seems to be as superficial as P&L, this is a small-minded and short-sighted decision by the AD. Might be nice for, btw, to actually ask a little more as to why the Athletic Dept nixed this. They say "didn't fit mission" and "logistical challenge," but do you think it might be worthwhile getting a little more detail? Reporting is a little bit too cursory and shallow...


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 6:25 p.m.

Interesting questions dotdash. Perhaps the U thought there wouldn't be a public outcry....after all, there are many races in the area. I really hope there is significant blowback but unfortunately it would probably take a significant drop in alumni donations for Brandon to reconsider this decision.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 5:42 p.m.

I'd love to know who, outside the Athletic Dept, signed off on this decision. Anybody in community relations? Anybody in alumni relations? Anybody in the president's office? Board of Regents?

Cindy Heflin

Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 5:04 p.m.

A2now: We are following up on this story and asking lots of questions. This was announced a short time ago. Answers to questions such as these take a bit of time to uncover.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 5 p.m.

The developing story appears to quote the mass email message from Champions for Charity that did not elaborate on why the athletic department made such poor decision.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 4:55 p.m.

I enjoyed running in the 10k in the past, an finishing in the stadium was always a treat. I can't believe that logistics are to blame here - Dave Brandon is never afraid of that sort of thing when it helps promoting the university and his athletic department. The re-evaluation of charity partnerships may suggest that there is another problem with Champions for Charity. It has long been known that actually very little of their fundraising actually goes to charity, and I wouldn't be surprised if there is more going on than we know and that the university had to pull the plug on them for that reason.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 7:14 p.m.

Hey Kafkaland, you wanna back that accusation up with fact? Please add a link to where you write "It has long been known that actually very little of their fundraising goes to charity...". Got proof, tough guy? Nice to make a statement like that and hide behind a fake name...


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 4:51 p.m.

Where is UM's statement on this issue? So far, we're only hearing one side of the story. They're going to need major damage control. This is a big deal. Only last week, Dave Brandon was quoted on as saying, "Find out how people want to be treated and then treat them that way." I'm sorry Dave - this is not how the running community, local charities, the Heart community, etc. want to be treated!


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 4:47 p.m.

Hopefully, this will see as much community outrage as when he didn't want to send the band down to Dallas for the Alabama game. Sadly, I don't think it will.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 4:46 p.m.

Let them know how you feel: - Dave Brandon 734-764-9416, - Mary Sue Coleman, - Denise Illich (regent) (248) 203-6789


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 8:24 p.m.

Robert K Rademacher, Associate Athletic Director for Facilities and Operations , E-Mail: , Work734/647-9763 .


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 4:46 p.m.

You can email Mary Sue Coleman (U of M President) at


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 4:45 p.m.

This was the largest fundraiser of the year for a local organization I support. Now they need to figure out a way to make up the $4600 they raise as part of this event.

Lizzy Alfs

Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 4:42 p.m.

That's too bad!


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 12:50 a.m.

understatement of the decade, lizzie.....


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 4:34 p.m.

I am eager to hear how, specifically, this is not in alignment with the AD's charitable giving. This decision seems short-sighted, ill-advised and has the potential to alienate the Athletic Department from the deep pockets of fellow supporters of these charities. President Coleman has praised BHBH for its work -- perhaps it's time that she step up and show Mr. Brandon that he is not the only decision maker in town?


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 9:20 p.m.

I doubt if Coleman would ever step up to Brandon. He's the Golden Boy.

J. Zarman

Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 4:29 p.m.

Thankfully, there is more scrutiny regarding the percentage of funds which actually end up providing charitable service. Has BHBH released its expense report? Charity Choices reports that more universities are requiring charities they coordinate with, to have low fund-raising and administrative costs, and an annual audit.

Rick Stevens

Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 5:33 p.m.

I haven't seen any financials from CFC and would like to know more how their finances work. They are an LLC so they don't have to release them. No 990s, etc. I don't think either since I don't think they are a non-profit.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 4:28 p.m.

Bad decision. Brandon is so out of touch with the local community.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 9:44 p.m.

SOOOOO UNTRUE. Mr. Brandon does alot for others. He is just NOT a CHEST THUMPER!! Thank you Dave for ALL that YOU do.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 9:10 p.m.

When Brandon was on the Board of Regents, he said, "I live in Ann Arbor, and I don't know anyone who wants to save that (the Frieze) building." Now, folks, he lives in Barton Hills. That is its own village and has about as much to do with A2 as Manhattan has to do with Whitmore Lake. I do agree with jeffsab. Not just out of touch,,,,,,,out of caring.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 4:28 p.m.

Why? What was the specific finding of the "several month eveluation"? Why not use the stadium as much as possible? Or, is it not available due to the huge amount of Big House weddings booked through the spring? $$$

Elspeth Doe

Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 11:55 p.m.

The "specific finding" could be obtained though a Michigan FOIA request. There have to be written records of the decision, even if it was just an email discussion. The University IS covered under the act (they try to say they aren't but the law is quite clear that they are because they were created by the State and funded primarily by the state and they are not otherwise exempted, like the courts are)


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 4:27 p.m.

Big House Big Heart should just say they are throwing a "wedding" that day.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 5:36 p.m.

Truly amazing that you can schedule a wedding there but can't have a run to raise money for charity.

Unusual Suspect

Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 4:27 p.m.

Wondering if there's some sort of exclusivity clause in the Special Olympics relationship that prevents this.

Elspeth Doe

Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 11:53 p.m.

That contract would be readily available under the Michigan FOIA. Anyone can make a request just label it an MCL 15.231 et seq request for a copy of the contract...or any other racord related to this controversy you wish to have. The University IS covered by the Act, even if they try to say they aren't, under section 15.232(d)(iv)


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 4:56 p.m.

I asked. They said they will still have relationships with other "partners", but not BHBH. I think back behind all the arm waving is that it was a big, successful event in their Big House that they didn't control or control enough.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 4:26 p.m.

Think about it. A little research (which I will do when I have time) will probably show that the financial benefit for UM was not there. That is all they care about. You'd think an entity like UM would actually care about the community they reside in, but they do not at all. It is ridiculous how painful it is to make use of any UM site for any type of philanthropic activity.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 4:24 p.m.

The decision came from Dave Brandon's office (Director of Athletics). His number is 764-9416. The university says community members can all Rod Rademacher 647-9763 with input. This is a really stupid thing the university is doing, as it goes a long way to rehabilitate the image of U of M athletics.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 4:39 p.m.

Expect to leave a voice mail message.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 4:25 p.m.

Sorry, meant to say that having the event at the stadium does a long way to rehabilitating the image of U of M athletics.

Emily Belanger

Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 4:23 p.m.

Okay, I may be blonde, but I would hope that someone in the University's AD might clarify why a long-running (!), successful event which raised $1.5 million is to be dropped in lieu of a jump into a cold tub? It seems to me to be the very definition of Lame!! (actually there is no reason that both events might not take place, but given one over the other....c'mon!)


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 2:30 a.m.

Is there any accounting for the BHBH race? The race raised $1.5 million but how much actually went to charities and how much went to CFC? Where is the accounting? They are not a non-profit. CFC is the same lame organization that scheduled a marathon in conflict with the Dexter-Ann Arbor run. They have no problem ignoring traditions if it means cash for them.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 4:18 p.m.

I am disgusted by this decision of the University of Michigan Athletic Department. Is there REALLY no room in their "charitable mission" to continue to allow the Big House Big Heart event to continue? That event has benefitted over 175 charities. I can't believe that weekend is reserved for something else. So what is the REAL reason?


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 4:14 p.m.

This decision needs to be revisited, reevaluated, and reversed. U of M is a selfish, corporate behemoth with no concern for anything but its bottom line. This latest announcement should confirm that truth for anyone who may have not known it.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 5:01 p.m.

I don't know, Ghost, a much respected old timer said the same thing about large universities 250 years ago - he said that their biggest concern is for their financial well-being, students are merely the means to an end, and to the majority of faculty students are a nuisance to be suffered. Adam Smith complained mightily about the high cost education for no purpose other than fattening the treasury of the institution and administrators, while serving the students poorly.

Ghost of Tom Joad

Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 4:17 p.m.

way to lump an entire university into your generalization. Keep building that narrative you have going so that it is impermeable to anything that may be contrary to your preconceived stereotypes.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 4:12 p.m.

Wow, thanks University of Michigan AD. I'm pretty sure that BHBH will end about now. But ya, sounds like taking dives into freezing tubs of water for money is a much better use of the Stadium than something as lame as "running for charity".


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 4:12 p.m.

I am saddened by this poor decision by the Brandon administration. This event has been extremely popular, fun, and most of all, done much for local charities. I strongly hope this decision will be rethought.