Jim Harbaugh is known for his larger than life personality and it appears that his recruiting trips are matching up from a cost perspective. According to USA Today, Michigan spent $136,000 in January alone to charter private jets for Harbaugh and three assistants for recruitment visits.
Here is an excerpt from the USA Today report:
Traveling alone or being accompanied by as many as three assistants at a time, Harbaugh racked up 18 jet-travel legs from Jan. 19 through Jan. 30. There were another five “dead” legs involving no passengers, and an assistant coach had one solo travel leg. There was only day during that period for which no private-jet trips were logged. Altogether, the total value came to nearly $136,000.
Spending $136,000 on trips in one month may seem excessive, but this trend did not begin with Harbaugh. USA Today noted that Michigan spent $585,721 in 2013-14 and $739,337 in 2014-15. Amazingly,these expenses only make up a small portion of the $142 million in athletic budget expenses.
We all know that college athletics is a business, but stories like these bring into question some of the regulations that punish student athletes that attempt to profit from their success, or enjoy some of the spoils from the revenue they assist in creating. Referring to college athletes as amateurs or student athletes will become more challenging as more stories like these come to light. Private jets and $142 million dollar expense budgets have all the hallmarks of a professional organization, except these performers don’t get paid.