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Posted on Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 11:40 a.m.

What did you think of the Michigan football segment on '60 Minutes'?

By Lizzy Alfs


The Michigan football team takes the field before the game against Northwestern on Nov.10.

Daniel Brenner |

Did you know that University of Michigan football revenue accounts for 75 percent of the athletic department’s $133 million budget?

Or that Brady Hoke works from 5:45 a.m. until at least 9 p.m.?

These were some of the facts presented during a “60 Minutes” segment aired on CBS News Sunday night, which featured U-M athletic director Dave Brandon. Crews from the program were in Ann Arbor in August and for the first two home games of the year filming the segment.

Brandon, who emphasized the importance of Michigan’s football program, talked about the “broken” business model of college athletics.

“You’ve got 125 of these programs. Out of 125, 22 of them were cash flow even or cash flow positive. Now, thankfully, we’re one of those. What that means is you’ve got a model that’s not sustainable in most cases,” he said.

He estimated that 60 percent to 70 percent of the university’s donations take place during the football season.

But all that money also results in a whole lot of pressure on football players and coaches.

“It is a full-time job,” said senior quarterback Denard Robinson. “It's a grind. And it's a grind because you have to do this. Because those games that you are going to face, it's going to take a toll on you.”

Brandon, who referred to the players as “kids who are still trying to figure out life,” said he worries about the pressure players face.

“Most rabid fans don't see any of that,” he said.

What did you think of the "60 Minutes" segment? Was anything surprising or interesting? You can read the full script here, and weigh in on the comments section below.

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at


Steven Murphy

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 7:04 a.m.

Imagine being a Towson player and after having played a great first half against LSU your coach says this about your mother: "Any sons of bitches that are smiling...." The dude should lose his job.


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 2:15 a.m.

Irresponsible. They could've done a compare/contrast with EMU down the road. Michigan is in the top 1/5 in Division I as far as making money. The other 80% operate at a loss. College football is hurting universities across the country. It leads to massive subsidies for athletics, which come at the expense of academics. The fact is, the average student or fan doesn't see a return on the investment. The cost of tuition is going down, neither is the cost of a ticket to the game, despite the fact that today the Big 10 added Maryland and Rutgers to the division. Those additions have nothing to do with football and everything to do with larger media markets (read: TV contracts) and recruiting. You'll never see cheaper tickets.


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 10:33 p.m.

Its most flattering to UM to be the focus of the 60 Minutes piece, could have been Bama. The more good publicity, the better the program does. Maybe this will get 500 more Freshman applications this year, not that they need them.


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 9:57 p.m.

I missed the part about the student athletes. All this money that is being made by the football program and do these kids actually graduate? What is the rate of graduation? What is the rate of players going on to successfully play in the NFL?

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 12:23 p.m.

samshoe, graduation rates are monitored and published by the NCAA. I have been to the web page more than a few times. Pick a school or a conference, pick a sport, pick all sports, it kicks up graduation rates.


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 11:43 p.m.

How many of these kids wouldn't even have the chance to attent a top universite but for the footbball program?

Terry Star21

Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 9:37 p.m.

I thought it was a wonderful piece Lizzy ! It is at times very hard for some people to believe or understand the money part. The University of Michigan Sports Department is a business corporation, let's face it. Football has long been known to finance the other sports - to the satisfaction of the many UM students that might not have a sport program. Just today I read an article in USA Today about Rutgers and Maryland joining our Big Ten. It also went on to say (can't remember which now) one of those schools had cut some of their sports programs because of the budget. It may not mean a lot to many people complaining about 'sports money' - but I guarantee you that those students, whose sport was cut, it meant the world to them. I attended Michigan later for a grad program, but I was at a smaller college that had sports programs cut (not mine) and it scared me to death that mine would be. People complaining about Michigan football costs should try being 17-22 yrs. old again. Additionally, I have been a Michigan football season ticket holder forever. One only had to sit in that stadium last Saturday to realize, their isn't many places in the world better than this ! I will pay/donate what ever Michigan football asks me too. Other bills in life will have to wait. Nice writing Lizzy.

Lizzy Alfs

Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 9:42 p.m.



Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 9:27 p.m.

The segment was interesting...but..what was not mentioned were the... > hundreds > thousands > tens of thousands > hundreds of thousands > millions > tens of millions...spent on the stadium and environs over the years. Gee - I wonder who pays for that?? I hope the fans enjoy their investment in all that glamour. Too bad many fans feel priced out of the stadium.

Lets Get Real

Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 9:12 p.m.

Did people watch the same piece I did? Yikes! Brandon sells everything he can think of: cushions affixed to your seat (because the cold metal seats are so hard), greater ortion of parking from ajoining "partners" (i.e. Pioneer), outrageous food prices ($4 water - you can buy a whole case for that), Tickets now nearly $100 (hardly a family affair and for many only affordable once each season), weddings, banquets, corporate events, can't afford the wedding - charge for just taking photos on the field. Football brings people to town, but more and more are economizing in the battle for the disposable dollar. Bring their own food, jam people into one car, and go home, rather than stay over - because the tickets eat up what disposable dollars their are to spend. Michigan is certainly not the only school behaving this way, but Brandon is a master at this - with a single minded focus of money for Michigan - who cares about skimming it from any other local busienss. All that's important is Michigan. Community? Is there a community beyond Michigan - not to Brandon. This is not the only big time program in the country - but I'd love to see how other programs relate to their community in comparison to the Brandon way.

Susan Kern

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 3:56 a.m.

Lets Get Real...really, honey this is Brandon's job and he seems to be doing it very well!


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 8:51 p.m.

As a staff member at the U of M, I (and my colleagues) work really hard to deliver a top-quality academic program to our students. I'm getting kind of tired of athletics in general and football specifically being the only tale we tell. Let's focus on the rest of the story - the educational achievements of so many outstanding young people!

Susan Kern

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 3:55 a.m.

Townie, you have it so wrong...U of M does a fabulous job praising the achievements of their students, facility and colleges. You are not paying attention to wonderful accolades.

Blue Marker

Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 9:55 p.m.

@Terry Star, While I was there for the Stealth Bomber and thought it was great I'm still not sold on DB. I was also there for "Jet Pack" guy and for that reason alone I have my concerns. He tends to be a bit too used cars salesmen for me.

Terry Star21

Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 9:51 p.m.

John of Saline.....although not related, did you get to see the Stealth Bomber fly over in early September ? Never in my lifetime would I have ever seen that - never ! That was all Dave Brandon....that man is a genius, and perfect for Michigan in many ways.

Terry Star21

Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 9:41 p.m.

Thank you Townie. I was in a grad program in 1983, and you are right on about the hard work from the staff and your 'complete' top-quality programs. Salute !

Billy Bob Schwartz

Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 9:16 p.m.

Feel free to sell that concept to TV. I'm sure they will run with it. I doubt any intelligent being could have serious doubts about the academics at Michigan. I used to tell people, "Yes, we lost the Rose Bowl last week, but that's only a game. Michigan is about being a great academic institution, and football is just one of our showier things." LOL I had a friend chide me for a lost Rose Bowl, so I asked him when was the last time his school went to the Rose Bow. But not to worry...that's only a game. It's really about Michigan's academic excellence. It doesn't have to be one or the other. People who are looking for an education can quickly find out about Michigan; then they can get in and try to buy tickets, but they will get a great education either way.

John of Saline

Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 9:14 p.m.

At my first football game as a student, the U-M solar car was driven onto the field, to thunderous applause. We know there's more than football.


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 8:45 p.m.

I loved it. I thought Dave Brandon was very honest and up front. He is a professional and I think he did U of M proud. I still can't get over Brady Hoke's voice. (I'm always waiting for this deep voice to come from a man his size and then it never is.) Great PR for Michigan!


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 8:44 p.m.

They should have compared the football program at U-M with the program at EMU. Football has to be a money loser for EMU.

Elaine F. Owsley

Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 8:41 p.m.

Found the bit entertaining and informative. Learned more about the program than I've known in the 50-odd years I've paid any attention to it.

Dog Guy

Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 8:41 p.m.

Although the money spent on football does fill Ann Arbor with drunken lout traffic and divert many poor kids from schoolwork, it is far less destructive than the money spent on illegal drugs or in response to telemarketing. Unlike the gladiatorial combat of two millennia past, football is played by free choice and may be considered a victimless nuisance.


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 8:15 p.m.

Why didn't they show Zingermans? :(


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 1:23 a.m.

Thank you Elizabeth.

Lizzy Alfs

Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 8:22 p.m.

Tesla: I believe it's in the "Overtime" segment here:


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 8:16 p.m.


Billy Bob Schwartz

Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 7:56 p.m.

If any of that show surprised you, where have you been and why haven't you paid attention?

Wolf's Bane

Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 7:07 p.m.

I think it did a great job to explaining why colleges are pouring so much money into football. I no longer feel so flustered and now I "get it."


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 6:57 p.m.

Overall, it was a thoughtful piece about the current state of college athletics but I could have done without the Pfizer ad at the end.


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 7:24 p.m.

That made me snort in irony...


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 6:40 p.m.

Some of the comments above lead me to believe that the writers of those comments were not fully paying attention to the fact that the football program brings in 75% of the budget for the entire athletic department. What that means is simple: support and scholarships for sports that don't bring in money. Maybe some of you think that is a bad thing. I think it is a good thing.

infrequent visitor

Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 9:21 p.m.

Back in the old days when football didn't generate the kind of revenue it does today, the universities paid for athletics as part of the total educational program. Sure, tickets defrayed some of the cost, but the athletic department was not an independent fief. The problem really is that major athletic departments have become independent business centers and they balance their own budgets. The only reason to view all sports other than football and basketball through the prism of a business unit is because athletic directors asked for control in exchange for promising to balance their budgets. Sports should be about the value they bring to the students, both athletes and fans. They bring lots. Ask any non-revenue sport athlete how much being on a team adds to their school experience. Go have fun cheering for volleyball or something. Not that I am on the anti-revenue, TV is bad screed. My point is that the mistake was agreeing that football would pay for the costs all the other sports. Not fair to football, not fair to the other sports. The university should pay for minor sports as part of the commitment to well rounded students. Football is part sport and part brand marketing campaign, and the budget should be managed with that fact in mind. That makes football different, that's for sure. But not because of the 'sport' part, because of the 'brand marketing' part. Northwestern may never win a Big 10 championship, but its football program and Big 10 exposure is the best marketing the school has (do non-economists know that there even is a University of Chicago?). Marketing spending should come from the marketing budget. Football will sit at the crossroads, but for most brands assuming marketing will pay for itself would be considered illogical.

Are you serious?

Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 6:26 p.m.

Maybe I'm just dense but I have never understood why alumni (or anyone else) would donate money to a college or university just because the football team is winning. What's up with that? I understand attending games and spending money while in town but not the donating part.


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 9:17 p.m.

Well, I think there is some "correlation is not causation" going on here. Brandon mentioned that gift-giving at the University increased during football season. While true, it should also be noted that football season occurs close to year end and most financial planning occurs at this time as well (particularly for tax purposes). With that said, I wouldn't be surprised if a winning football team inspired a nostagia among alumni and increased gift giving for that reason.


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 6:10 p.m.

Our family's favorite part was the shot of the team cooling off in livestock tanks filled with ice water after a hot practice.


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 7:07 p.m.

Ha ha, I experienced a little 'shrinkage' just watching that part.... "I WAS IN THE POOL!!!", George Kostanza.

Lizzy Alfs

Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 6:20 p.m.

Haha! I mean, I've heard of it before...but that can't be comfortable..

Brian Salvatore

Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 5:35 p.m.

I had a wonderful time attending football games at UM as a member of the marching band (class of '87). However, as a professor now at LSU (Shreveport campus), I see things somewhat differently. I believe that the sheer amount of money being devoted to college football today is excessive. Michigan is one of the schools that is pursuing this to no end. Some universities, like Emory, have shown that they do not require a football program to be an outstanding university. Michigan and other big football universities are currently carrying on an unsustainable arms race that is already threatening the academic foundations of our higher educational system. I was unconvinced by the arguments made by the athletic director that this is a sound course to take the school on. I would have liked to have seen the UM President speak on behalf of the school too last night.

Brian Salvatore

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 9:52 p.m.

At some point, you all are all going to have to ask, where does it stop? What is the ultimate goal here and does it really matter that much to come at the expense of more important roles of the university? Is this really the race that is worth the big picture? So in a decade, you will be able to pay your head coach $10 million per year and your assistants $2 million apiece, in a stadium that seats 150,000 elite fans.. So what? Who will be left holding the bag in the end? Then what?


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 7:12 p.m.

I thought it was pretty clear that U of M was one of the few profitable universities and even Brandon didn't think the money escalation was a good thing for most schools. It seemed, though, that both he and Brady Hoke accepted it as a necessity to compete on the national stage.


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 6:59 p.m.

I'm not sure I understand your argument that these big football programs "are currently carrying on an unsustainable arms race that is already threatening the academic foundations of our higher educational system." Just how are they threatening academic foundations? At Michigan at least, the athletic department is completely self-sustaining due to football with NO MONEY being diverted from the general fund of the University. How does that threaten any academic program? What IS really threatening higher education at universities is the unsustainable tuition and fee increases that are fast making a college education out of reach for more and more young people. If you want to talk about an arms race, I'd say that is exactly what most universities have been engaging in (on the academic side) over the last 20 to 25 years - resulting in absurd yearly costs for students.

Thick Candy Shell

Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 6:25 p.m.

You must not have watched the program. They clearly said that the brand draws people due to the football program. And you want to compare Emory, ~15,000 grad and under-grad to U of M.......... U of M is hands down a better school.