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Posted on Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 1:24 p.m.

Saga over: Michigan drums up funds to send marching band to Texas

By Nick Baumgardner


The Michigan marching band will join the football team for a season-opening game against Alabama at the Cowboy Classic in Arlington, Texas.

Melanie Maxwell |

This story was updated at 3:37 p.m. with additional information on the band's trip.

The Michigan marching band is headed to Texas.

Band director Scott Boerma confirmed via email to on Tuesday that athletic director Dave Brandon informed him and his staff that the marching band will be attending the Michigan football team's 2012 season opener against defending national champion Alabama in the "Cowboys Classic," held in Arlington, Texas.

"We just received an email from AD David Brandon saying that Athletics has now decided that, as a result of some work we have done to reduce costs and with the help of some donors, they will be taking us to Dallas for the Cowboy Classic game vs. Alabama," Boerma wrote in an email to his staff.

Boerma explained via email that the number of students the band will bring to Texas will be "very close to a typical road-game contingent." He added that the band will travel to the game via a chartered flight.

Also, the band will be able to put on a halftime show during the Sept. 1 contest with the same number of students it normally uses for halftime entertainment during home games inside Michigan Stadium.

Boerma said he gave an estimate of the actual number of students the band would need to put on an effective performance, and Brandon agreed with no request for compromise.

Michigan came under some criticism last week after word got out that the band would be left behind on the trip due to monetary concerns.

At the time, Michigan spokesman Dave Ablauf said that the school was treating the Alabama game like "any other road game." Meaning, the athletic department had not set aside funds within its budget to send the band to Texas for the season opener.

Ablauf said the only road games the Michigan band typically travels for are conference dates and any away tilt at Notre Dame. The band attended last season's Sugar Bowl, but on the dime of the bowl itself.

In an interview with the Detroit News later Thursday, Brandon estimated the cost of sending the entire band to Texas at $400,000. And though Michigan will receive $4.7 million to participate in the "Cowboys Classic," Brandon said those funds needed to be re-invested into Michigan's athletic department.

"We bring in $4.7 million for this game, and that's how we pay for 29 sports at the University of Michigan," Brandon said Monday. "People don't need to understand how this business works, but how this works is football and to a much, much, much lesser degree, men's basketball, pays the cost of 27 other sports.

"The resources brought in are not profit or extra resources, those are dollars (we need) to spend on other student-athletes, other coaches, other programs. My job is to make sure the resources we bring in are adequate to take care of all of our 865 student-athletes, all of our 29 sports and all of the things that are part of that. That's my job."

The initial news of the band's planned absence from the game was met with plenty of angst via social media.

Fans were joined on Twitter by several former football and men's basketball players in voicing their displeasure with the school's decision to leave the band home. In fact, the Twitter hashtag "#MMBtoDallas" received hundreds of tweets and mentions just hours after it had been created Thursday night.

"Favorite Umich memory was band playing for us at practice before first game," former Michigan tight end Bennie Joppru wrote last week via Twitter, "gave me chills & still does. Money b4 tradition? WOW."

On Monday, Brandon addressed the issue with reporters.

"The band wants to go to Dallas, and so does everybody that loves the band," he said. "And I love the band, I want them to go to Dallas, too. It was just a function, and has been all the way along, for us to figure out how to make that work."

It appears, they've now done just that.

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan sports for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.



Sun, Apr 29, 2012 : 5:04 a.m.

Word has it that MSU and Mark Hollis kicked in 50% of the money just to get them out of the state.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 5 p.m.

OMG!!!!!!!, I can sleep now.......I agree with you, Happy.....some many more important issues than this.....Bama is going to spank them, so THE band won't make a difference away....Right Chelsea Bob, Brandon paid for this himself, take off your maize and blue sunglasses.......

Casey conley

Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 12:09 p.m.

With support like that how can we lose.... We will do great. The football team, the band, the university. Go Blue!!

Casey conley

Wed, Apr 25, 2012 : 9:22 p.m.

So happy they made this happen!


Wed, Apr 25, 2012 : 5:14 p.m.

I'd be willing to give 10-1 odds that one of the donors is DB himself. He is a class guy and we're lucky to have him. Go Blue


Wed, Apr 25, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.

Ditto what Sparky79 said. But I have to ask what "cost saving measures" were made and please name the donors??? No peanuts on the flight down??? And who in their right minds gave money to pay for the band's travel expenses when the athletic department seems quite fat, financially speaking? Brandon and this whole matter smells like an MSU swine barn before cleaning.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 12:26 p.m.

TMC, Consider that his budget is $121M and UM projected a $10M+ SURPLUS this year. Your question gets pretty easy under these conditions. The only need for 'donors' is to cover up a huge fumble by the leadership. I suspect they don't exist.


Wed, Apr 25, 2012 : 12:43 p.m.

"People don't need to understand how this business works..." Maybe Brandon should make it part of his job that people DO understand how this business works because when your fans, who bank roll this operation, see how many millions in surplus you bring in every year, see you spend millions on new facilities for football, basketball, hockey, lacrosse, soccer, etc..., increase coaches salaries, and so forth, it makes you wonder how much money they have and where it's all going. I understand the need for the money to help take care of the student athletes and the staff. But the other day Brandon was making the claim that without that $400K there wouldn't be an athletic department, which is beyond ridiculous and laughable. This University/Athletic Department can easily dig up $2.5 million to pay for RichRod's West Virginia buyout and another $2.5 million owed to RichRod after firing him. But $400K to send the band to Dallas would sink the athletic department? That's a good one! In the end Brandon got what he wanted (donors to pony up) and the band is going to Dallas, so good for them. But for a university that prides itself on being world class, this was an absolute PR embarrassment all over the internet, in print media, and nationally on TV. It never should have come to this.


Wed, Apr 25, 2012 : noon

Brandon is quite a business man he let's word out months ahead of time to make sure that people will dontate to get the bands trip paid for and he doesn't have to dip into the money he is taking in for the game to pay for the increasing salaries he is paying for Football and other sports. some think this trip being OKd is from bad PR it is pure genius by DB.


Wed, Apr 25, 2012 : 12:17 p.m.

Seems like he can't make a decision himself and live with it if he has to put the word out and get people's reactions. I wouldn't call that pure genius.


Wed, Apr 25, 2012 : 11:55 a.m.

When it comes down to it this was all about the money. Brandon got the downer funds he was fishing for. This may come back to bite him on game day. It will be interesting to see if ESPN and other sports agencies bring this to the front on game day.


Wed, Apr 25, 2012 : 3:08 a.m.

Presenting the two hundred thirty five member Michigan Marching Band...... BANDDDDDDDDD Take the Field! Thank you to the donors, the athletic department and Dave Brandon for doing whatever to get the band to Texas. It wouldn't have been the same without them. Now, we need to be prepared for a challenging first game of the season. Let's Go Blue!


Wed, Apr 25, 2012 : 2:48 a.m.

Go band! You are the reason football games are fun.


Wed, Apr 25, 2012 : 2:33 a.m.

Thank you Mary Sue Coleman!!!!!!!!!! Dave, you know better! Don't make a mistake like this again, or you'll end up in the Presidents office again.


Wed, Apr 25, 2012 : 2:20 a.m.

The money was always there. And we know it. Dave needed to reverse his position but had to try to do it in a way that didn't undermine his leadership or decision making ability. The prepared statements would point to 'cost savings' and 'donors' whether they existed or not. There is simply no other way for an executive to try to control damage in a situation like this. Anyway, its done, and in a couple of years most folks will have forgotten this massive faux pas.

Monica R-W

Wed, Apr 25, 2012 : 1:42 a.m.

Go Blue! Go Michigan! Go Michigan Band! Bad P.R. for Brandon and Coleman. Us Band Fans will never forget this one!


Wed, Apr 25, 2012 : 12:44 a.m.

Thank God that this is real news... not like the Cats saved in the foreclosed home, or the what will Denard Robinson do stories that are published!!!! This is about the MICHIGAN BAND!!! What can be more NEWS WORTHY IN THE ANNARBOR.COM!!! LOL....


Wed, Apr 25, 2012 : 1:13 a.m.

For what it's worth, you have to click into SPORTS, and then click into UM before you see this story, unless you have the link saved as a favorite. Either way, you are commenting just like me


Wed, Apr 25, 2012 : 12:43 a.m.

Way to spin it Brandon. Many people will think you're genuine.


Wed, Apr 25, 2012 : 2:21 a.m.

spot on numbers guy

Steve Hendel

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 10:48 p.m.

The UM had millions of dollars to throw at Rich Rodriguez, bailing him out of his WVU contract, but wants to (metaphorically) hold a bake sale for the marching band?


Wed, Apr 25, 2012 : 12:46 a.m.

Obviously he has plenty of money to throw at the coaching staff


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 10:32 p.m.

I feel for the director, staff and entire marching band - this entire fiasco could have and should have been avoided. Maybe Borges, who makes ten times the salary of the director, should just foot the bill himself? Ridiculous.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 10:07 p.m.

DB got his money from donors to pay for the band's trip, which means saving another $400K from his budget. Sure, he will take a hits for a few days but it worked out beautifully. That is how a smart CEO operates.


Wed, Apr 25, 2012 : 12:14 p.m.

I thought he was AD


Wed, Apr 25, 2012 : 11:18 a.m.

A smart CEO doesn't aggravate his customers. Even UM fans will run out of patience if Brandon pulls other short sighted stunts like this in the future.


Wed, Apr 25, 2012 : 2:23 a.m.

don't believe it. The money was always there. And we know it. Dave needed to reverse his position but had to try to do it in a way that didn't undermine his leadership or decision making ability. The prepared statements would point to 'cost savings' and 'donors' whether they existed or not. There is simply no other way for an executive to try to control damage in a situation like this.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 9:57 p.m.

The fans and alumni have been heard...

Lou Perry

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 9:55 p.m.

Logic and alumni prevail.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 9:48 p.m.

A happy and rightful end to a bad story line from the Athloetic Department. The only bad taste in my mouth is that generous donors stepped up to bail out the Athetic Department and I hope this does not set a precedent. I would not like to see this happen again. Congrats to the band and we all know they are very much appreciated.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 9:48 p.m.

A sad tale that donors had to step in and bail out the Athletic Department and Mr Brandon to send the Band to the game. We know how very tight those extra millions in the budget are. Ridion 2112 and 81 Wolverene are right on!


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 9:26 p.m.

Congratulations (Dollar) Dave for doing the right thing......finally

Joel Gerring

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 8:52 p.m.

Next time, instead of just announcing that the band isn't going, how about we say "hey, we're going to have some trouble funding the band's trip out there, but I don't want to leave them behind... so I'm asking YOU, the Michigan fans, to help us out a little bit..." Wouldn't this have gotten us to the same place without the huge PR hit?


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 9:31 p.m.

You make a great point, but the thing is--no matter how it's spun, for Michigan athletics to plead poorness or poverty smacks of dishonesty. Michigan is among the most successful financial departments, and is certainly among the most recognized. It just smacks of cheapness and thoughtlessness to leave behind the symbol of its school (alongside its football team), and I am glad that cooler and smarter heads prevailed. I predicted it, by the way, but am still happy with the final outcome.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 8:13 p.m.

DB ended up making the right decision, but only after a firestorm of bad PR, and of course only after donors stepped in, which I suspect, was his motive all along. This is back door fundraising of the worst kind using deceptive tactics. There was money in the kitty for sending the band (26 mil profit last year for starters), but DB chose to deny them the trip knowing all along that donors would step up. Regardless of how much $$ this game brings to UM Athletics, the fact remains that the department had a 26 million $$ PROFIT last year, and that's a tidy sum for a theoretical NON profit enterprise. Glad the band is going, but it should never have come to this.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 8:02 p.m.

I think the fact that Michigan rarely plays a meaningful non-conference road game caught DB off guard. Outside of ND, I can't remember the last really anticipated road non-conference game, maybe Oregon, but they were JUST becoming the Oregon we know today.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 8:18 p.m.

I disagree that DB was caught off guard. He just manipulated the situation so donors would step in, which was his strategy all along. Too bad he threw the band under the bus in the meantime.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 7:46 p.m.

.Hail To The Victors.. Go Blue! v


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 7:33 p.m.

I'm sorry to say I have to agree with those who say Dave Brandon fumbled the ball big time on this matter. I've appreciated almost every decision D.B. has made since he became A.D. and this one really baffled me. The bad taste may linger for a while, but at least we'll be more alert to the possibility that Dave Brandon isn't super human after all. ;-) He does still have a stock of good will from fans: he took on the firing of a coach "not much liked" and replaced him with a coach who has proven himself over and over again to be capable and All In For Michigan. Congrats to the Michigan Marching Band - we love you and know you ARE an essential part of Michigan Wolverines Football. Go Blue!

Terry Star21

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 8:18 p.m.

Forever27, sorry but Brady Hoke was the first applicant that was offered a contract.....don't know what book you were reading...


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 7:51 p.m.

Looks to me like Dave Brandon used the press to get some people with deep pockets to donate more to the university which will directly affect the experience of over a hundred undergraduates. If that means some of us feel upset, I am sure his boss does not mind. By September, no one will be talking about this, and everyone will be excited that we beat Alabama!


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 7:45 p.m.

Hoke was a miracle that not even Dave Brandon could have expected. He was our thrid choice, so to credit DB for picking him is giving him too much praise when he just got lucky.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 7:16 p.m.

Was the band going to be sitting in seats in the stadium that can generate revenue? Anyone know where the bands get placed in Jerry Jone's palace?


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 7:27 p.m.

If you go to they have a link to the contract and, I think, to the stadium seating chart which DID (and now still does) show were the MMB are to be seated. The clearly marked area (according to those who've seen it) is what provoked the first protests since the chart was created originally with the understanding that the MMB obviously needed to have that space.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 6:56 p.m.

Amen Dave!


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 6:36 p.m.

I think in the future, DB would be well-advised to bounce some decisions off more people before going public to avoid the huge negative PR storm that enveloped the athletic department when he announced the band wasn't going to TX. He understands the power of perception more than anyone. So, the question is was this just a goof on his part or a well-orchestrated (but negative) approach to raising more money to send the band? Either way, Brandon has some damage control to do on his image.


Wed, Apr 25, 2012 : 2:27 a.m.

Easy question to answer. What's more important to Dave Brandon, Dave Brandon's reputation or $400K in a $121M budget? Don't forget they are projecting a $10M+ SURPLUS. This was a huge fumble.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 9:53 p.m.

I think the band should go to any big game. Period.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 6:31 p.m.

Although the end result is great news for Michigan and the band, why did it have to come to this? The athletic department could have easily covered the cost to take the band without any of the bad press they (Brandon) brought upon themselves and the University. To reduce the cost by the band was great, but why did it take donors to step up. Seriously? A program that has more $$ than they know what to do with has to depend on additional donors to step up to send the band to an away game? Alabama didn't have all this nonsense and bad press. They were taking their band to this important game from day 1. No bad press, no bad feelings. Ironic that the Tide got it right from the word go and the Wolverines didn't until the 11th hour.

Terry Star21

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 6:18 p.m.

Well, I hate to admit it - but you have a point. I am sure more future donations will easily cover the travel cost. Was this a smart ploy by DB, or just a critical error - we'll never know, but you have to love David Brandon - he is great for Michigan football.

Terry Star21

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 6:09 p.m.

Thank you David Brandon. In my book, you are still batting 1.000... Michigan football is always the best supported college team in America, now we have given our supporters an extra reason to be happy and enjoy the Greatest Show on Earth... MgoBlueForTiM.....David Brandon, always the best....

AA native, ND fan

Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 12:50 a.m.

Michigan football is always the best supported college team in America? Just a *tad* of homerism, wouldn't you say? I think ND football and Texas football both have a solid case over Michigan in football alone, and I haven't even begun to think of other sports yet.


Wed, Apr 25, 2012 : 12:42 a.m.

Get a room


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 9:52 p.m.

I'm with Forever27. It was a strike out watching the third strike. A hit on the next time up after being chewed out by the manager and booed by the crowd.

Terry Star21

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 8:25 p.m.

Forever27.....Dave Brandon hit a foul ball, walked slowly back, reset himself and smacked a home run......batting average, still 1.000. Praise this man to all lengths, for he shall do no wrong......Brandon 133.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 6:25 p.m.

wouldn't having the band go in the first place (as was originally written in the contract) mean he was batting 1.000? to me, this was nothing but walking back a bad decision. Let's not retroactively praise him for correcting his own bad idea.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 5:57 p.m.

Well, Thank God! I was so worried about these privileged UofM students not being able to travel to Texas...I was ready to start a non-profit charity for them. Forget donating to Food Gatherers or the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders...we must make sure these students get a free trip to Texas for a football game. I know all are going to hate on me for this comment, but I think this whole thing is a little ridiculous...there are bigger and more important problems in this city...


Wed, Apr 25, 2012 : 11:50 a.m.

"privileged UofM students" Most of those students have loans that will follow them for years when they leave the school. They earned the right through hard work to make the trip. I fully support the charities you mention and others. I highly recommend people donate to them. You actually have demeaned them by using them to promote what obviously is a personal distain against anyone going to college or college sports in general.


Wed, Apr 25, 2012 : 5:22 a.m.

Whoever said violence was not the answer never understood a fascist ;)


Wed, Apr 25, 2012 : 5:19 a.m.

That is where you are wrong. It is necessary. Fascists need to be punished in the worst way possible.


Wed, Apr 25, 2012 : 12:19 a.m.

Ted, you may (or may not) care that even though you don't care about Red Cross, if you happen to need a blood transfusion, they will have the blood there for you. I.e., it's one thing to say that you care more about the band than Red Cross - but it's not necessary to denigrate them to do so.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 8:48 p.m.

@happy... People chose to give money to THIS, because it is important to them and choose not to give it to what is unimportant to them. I don't care about Doctors Without Boarders, Red Cross or whatever ever else YOU think is more important. They are not important to me and that is all that matters. So, unfortunately for you, we can care about whatever the h*** we want and do whatever the h*** we want with our money. If you want to give to your charities , nobody is stopping you, nor will we care. Maybe your charity will give you a button to wear.

Rodney Arthur

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 7:03 p.m.

As someone born in Africa, getting to America alone was hard (although my parents had to deal with those challenges, I was just a kid.) It had been my dream to go Michigan (it was the only American university I knew at the time), and hard work, luck, and scholarships/grants got me there. Privileged or not, most of us worked hard to get here, and work hard every fall to put those shows on the field.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 6:30 p.m.

As they say, "haters gonna hate".


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 6:23 p.m.

It's great to support many charities... but after living all over America, a lot of us know Ann Arbor is as much of a "utopia" as UM students are "privileged." There are places that need a lot more charity that Ann it goes both/all ways.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 6:22 p.m.

Band members are spoiled. They know this. But you being a cynic on the internet isn't helping Food Gatherers, the Red Cross, or Doctors Without Borders either, is it?


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 6:19 p.m.

EXACTLY! You made my point! Of course, I agree that people can divide their funds/resources/time/advocacy (and donate as they choose)... but how many top articles are there on currently about Charity+Water or the CityFarm? I'm sure neither organization had a donation of 400k in the last year or more. They could probably use the PR/advocacy/donors more and they are actually doing a public service.

Terry Star21

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 6:13 p.m.

You probably forgot what it's like to be young, and work hard at your craft while balancing studies and the pressures - and be given a chance to show American what you can do. Whether you like it or not, this is a great learning experience for our young - the next leaders of our fine country...

Rob MI

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 6:10 p.m.

Take your garbage and negativity elsewhere.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 6:04 p.m.

This never was a city problem. And, believe it or not, most people are able to spend some mental cycles on more than one problem at a time. Like donating to Charity+Water at the same time as funding local projects like CityFarm in Ypsi.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 5:50 p.m.

Who are the donors...I would like to support them!


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 5:44 p.m.

never underestimate the power of bad PR.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 6:08 p.m.

and a little cash from the right people.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 5:52 p.m.