Michigan Wolverines Athletic Director Warde Manuel provided an update on the football season ticket holders.
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Manuel Sends Letter To Fans, Reveals Cost-Cutting Measures U-M Is Taking

Michigan Wolverines Athletic Director Warde Manuel sent out a letter today to the football program's season ticket holders, providing an update on their situation as the 2020 season quickly approaches.

Manuel began his message by pointing out the obvious, explaining that he's disappointed for U-M's teams and fans, due to the fact there will be either a "smaller number of fans or no fans in attendance" at the school's athletic events this fall.

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Michigan Wolverines AD Warde Manuel
Michigan Wolverines Athletic Director Warde Manuel took over at U-M in 2016. (Lon Horwedel)
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"While our fiscal situation is unlike anything we have ever experienced, our resolve remains unchanged: to support our more than 900 student-athletes who entrusted us with their education, athletic opportunities, and future careers when they chose the University of Michigan," Manuel wrote.

"Given the anticipated loss of revenue due to limited or no fans at our games, our department faces an unparalleled level of financial uncertainty. As a direct result, we budgeted $61 million less in revenues this year which could easily double if the decision is made not to play any sports.

"In addition, we are also facing significant costs related to safely returning our student-athletes and staff to campus with protocols in place. Additionally, if fans are allowed to attend games this season, we are ready to implement significant measures to safely welcome them to our facilities."

Manuel went on to explain that the athletic department has created "cost-saving measures to reduce expenditures," and expanded a bit on what each of those are. He said there has been a $10.9 million (28 percent) reduction in team and game expenses, due to a lack of travel, recruiting, supplemental nutrition and other team expenses.

There has also been a $3.8 million (25 percent) drop in operating costs, which again, is due to the lack of travel, professional development and the expenses that come along with hosting an athletic activity.

Nearly a $4 million reduction in salaries in the athletic department has also occurred, Manuel revealed. The postponement of construction projects have saved costs at the school as well, as has the elimination of yearly contribution to the facility deferred maintenance fund, which was originally slated to be $6 million.

The final money-saving initiative Manuel mentioned in his letter was a year-long hiring freeze for non-essential jobs.

"While these reductions will help mitigate the uncertainty of the upcoming year, the reality is that our immediate decrease in resources threatens the support we are able to offer our student-athletes for the foreseeable future," he continued.

"Without additional resources, the level of investment in our programs will have to be reduced even further. If we are able to have a 2020 football season, the capacity of Michigan Stadium will be reduced, or games could be held without fans.

"As a result, we recently communicated there will not be football season tickets this year."

Manuel concluded his letter by asking fans to convert their season ticket payments toward a gift to Michigan's Champions Fund; in doing so, the U-M Athletic Director said the donator would then receive a variety of benefits, including a 20 percent reduced season ticket amount next year.

Limited or no fans will be a trend seen around all of college football this season, with several programs already announcing they won't have people in their seats.

Perhaps the most notable and close-to-home university to make that declaration was Penn State, who revealed today its 106,572-seat Beaver Stadium — the second-biggest venue in college football — will remain entirely empty this fall.

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