GMAC Bowl costs CMU $188,903

Central Michigan University and the Athletics Department spent $188,903 to send the football team to the GMAC Bowl on Jan. 6 in Mobile, Ala.

Total game costs were $561,133, which included lodging and transportation, but CMU received a $350,000 travel allocation from the Mid-American Conference and earned $22,230 in ticket sales, which helped offset the costs.

Football team transportation was $153,288 and lodging was $113,735. The football team and coaches spent five days and four nights in Alabama, said Senior Associate Athletic Director Derek van der Merwe.

“All that is required,” he said. “They require you to stay in a certain hotel, they require you to stay there five days, four nights, require you to attend certain events.”

Band transportation was $176,211 and both the band and cheerleaders’ lodging cost $37,848.

The GMAC Bowl required CMU to bring the cheerleaders and the Marching Chippewas to participate in bowl events.

“The band is not an Athletics Department unit, so ... the university provided the dollars necessary to take the band to the game,” said Athletics Director Dave Heeke.

The band flew in the day before the game and stayed one night.

“That’s all outlined in the bowl agreement that’s negotiated ahead of time between the league, which is all of our 13 schools, and the bowl,” Heeke said.

All staff, players and band left immediately after the game to save money.

The non-team official travel party included staff members, university personnel, the president, fund-raising staff and radio crew. Their transportation and lodging totaled $16,288.

Other expenses included $6,163 in entertainment, $3,000 in promotion and advertising and $54,600 in equipment and supplies.

“We took the team to a movie one night, we did a couple of small donor functions,” Heeke said. “A very minimal entertainment expense.”

The department ran print and radio ads to spur ticket sales and printed media.

Money also was necessary to extend the season an extra month, which included 20 more practices.

“We’re ordering more tape, more medical supplies, any equipment repairs that had to be done,” Heeke said.

Bowl requirements also necessitated applying different logos to the players’ uniforms.


Heeke said the true value of the bowl game could not be measured to the Athletics Department.

“Bowl games are not profit. It’s the extended value that helps grow a university,” he said.

The GMAC Bowl was a tremendous reward for the team and an opportunity for CMU to be exposed in a different geographical market, he said.

Additionally, the GMAC Bowl was the only game that evening and received one of the largest viewing audiences of the bowl season. Aside from the five Bowl Championship Series games, the GMAC Bowl was one of the most watched bowl games, drawing an audience of 3.52 million, van der Merwe said.

“You just can’t measure that exposure,” Heeke said. “It’s also a chance for us to celebrate the excellence that is occurring in our program. We believe that helps reflect on the whole university.”

The GMAC Bowl helps inspire alumni to be connected to CMU and donate back to the university, and generates pride among the staff faculty and students, he said.

“That, I think, is what bowl games are all about,” he said.


When former football coach Butch Jones left CMU to take the head coaching position at the University of Cincinnati, his contract required that he pay $700,000 to the university for leaving early.

“The contract outlines that he’s responsible to pay that to the university,” Heeke said.

Although CMU has not received the money, the Athletics Department has been in contact with Jones and Heeke fully anticipates Jones will pay the university by the May 16 deadline.


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