Athletic Dept Changes to Priority Points (HUGE!)

Submitted by MLaw06 on November 29th, 2012 at 2:27 PM

Beginning in 2013, the Priority Points system will be modified to give more points to Michigan alums and athletes.  Specifically, the priority points for one alumnus(a) will increase from 5 points to 20 points and the priority points for one athlete will increase from 10 points to 40 points.  Alumni couples and athlete couples may combine their points to a max of 40 points and 80 points for each such category, respectively. [Chart below highlights these changes (note: an athlete is also assumed to be an alum for purposes of the calculations below).  The plus numbers are netted as compared to current point values for their respective categories.]

This will cause significant priority point inflation for alums and athletes (and conversely, depreciation for non-alums and non-athletes).  The magnitude of this change can be extrapolated into dollars by converting 1 point to $100 (i.e., which is the conversion rate based on direct donations to Michigan Athletics), which results in a net benefit to single alums in the amount of $1,500... and to athlete/alum couples of $9,000, etc.

Given that the current (as of 2012 based on the Michigan website) median for priority points is 21.2, this is a huge change.


1 Alum


2 Alums


1 Athlete


2 Athletes


25% 3.82 18.82 33.82 48.82 93.82
50% 21.2 36.2 51.2 66.2 111.2
90% 174.67 189.67 204.67 219.67 264.67
95% 326.65 341.65 356.65 371.65 416.65
99% 1365.81 1380.81 1395.81 1410.81 1455.81

What are your thoughts re: whether this is an appropriate change to properly value a Michigan degree and/or varsity athletic involvement?  Does this unfairly affect the Michigan fans who are not alums?



November 29th, 2012 at 2:33 PM ^

It definitely piqued my attention, especially considering the potential inflationary/deflationary effects, but I wasn't sure if it was directly related to sports.  I'll drop the OT now.

I was a bit shocked by the magnitude of the adjustment (potentially $9,000) and how it will shift the priority points curve from a median of 21 to multiples of that.


November 29th, 2012 at 3:28 PM ^

Unlike pro teams, the tickets for a Michigan football game, for example, are evenly priced throughout most sections (except for certain suites, etc.).  Therefore, the only way you get better seats is by having higher priority points. 

You can also buy better seats on the secondary market (i.e., stubhub), but the face value of a ticket in the endzone will be the same as one on the 50-yard line.


November 29th, 2012 at 3:44 PM ^

The more money you give, the more points you get.  These changes give alums/athletes an advantage, but if you have enough dollars, you get as many points as you want.  All tickets have the same face value, but the question is whether there is a Premium Seat Donation attached to said seat. You need points to qualify to get the seats with the high PSDs. Of course, once you get the really good seats, they have a really high PSD and you keep getting a lot more points just to renew the PSD.

The points also get you some "extra" things, like parking at football games.  The more points, the better the parking.  You also get invited to some other events, like a brunch before a FB practice before the Alabama game.



November 30th, 2012 at 12:14 PM ^

Actually, a $750,000 donation will accrue 7,500 points.  But, yes, I agree that money does matter to some extent.

At the end of the day, the sideline seats will still probably fall to those who are in the upper half of the giving curve (i.e., guys who donate upwards of $2,000).  So there is definitely still an incentive to be a giver or a big giver.

FYI - very few people donate upwards of $100,000 (and few have the means to).  I use the term "big giver" as someone who gives in the $10,000 range. 

Further FYI - most rich people donate large amounts (typically in the form of appreciated stock)for estate planning reasons and not because of their desire to accrue priority points (which would be nonsensical given that priority points would not survive their death). 


November 29th, 2012 at 2:46 PM ^

FWIW, I'm torn (and probably still don't fully understand the system).  I have no problem with the athletes getting bumped up.  As for alums vs. non-alums, though, I don't know.  As a non-alum (though the son of two alums), I am a bigger supporter of Michigan athletics than a lot of alums whom I've known. 


November 29th, 2012 at 2:55 PM ^

Its definitely an interesting situation, especially for people like yourself who give probably a lot more than most alums.  The issue in my mind has always been that a degree has to be more valuable than monetary donations.  Just as students get "priority" over the general public (I don't mean to demean you by calling you "general public"), so too should alums.  Affluent non-alums will always make out fine.  The real pain will be felt by those non-affluent fans that suddently are way behind the 8-ball.  But, as an alum, I always appreciate any special treatment!  (joking, but not really)


November 29th, 2012 at 3:04 PM ^

I guess in this case "bigger supporter of Michigan athletics" doesn't matter as much as having actually attended the University, paid tuition, etc.  Of course, the University also wants to keep relationships with alumni good so that they will turn around and donate more.  Anyway, I think this is a good move.  


November 29th, 2012 at 3:55 PM ^

Good point.  I agree from a cost persepective.  I'm thinking of this is an added perk of attending the school.  Yes, alumni attend for great academics and their degrees, but they are also there for the camaraderie and experience of Michigan athletics - not just for 4 years but their entire lifetime.  It's part of the equation when choosing a school.  Students choosing another University can certainly get a great education and a unique experience from their school, but they will miss out on some aspects that are unique to Michigan.   


November 29th, 2012 at 4:35 PM ^

I mean at this point tuition is over 50% of the schools operating budget and is projected to rise.  The school doesn't exist without students and thus neither would the athletic program.  It makes sense to give partial treatment to alums which is why every school does it.  Alums also tend to donate more back to the school itself which is a good thing, sports helps keep alumni connected to the school in more ways than one so it helps to keep them connected.  But i'm also a student now so I might be bias.


November 29th, 2012 at 2:36 PM ^

So M is incentivizing athletes to get married to each other increasing the chances of more athletic kids being born with uncorrupted M allegiance. Further, they are incentivizing more alums to marry each other increasing the chances more kids will be born with pure M fandom. Thus negating a need for a mascot to grow the kid fanbase and recruit pipeline.

Very sly Dave Brandon! Indeed.


November 29th, 2012 at 2:37 PM ^

As a non-alum, I've been slowly trying to build up points for seasons tickets (up to 6 points now) but this will totally de-incentive me to donate any more. I'm so far behind now that it won't be worth any more donations.


November 29th, 2012 at 2:46 PM ^

FYI - if you just want season tickets, a one-time donation of $500 would probably qualify you in the first year.  I think they have a $500 threshold to get new season tickets and then you have to maintain it by PSD contributions (if your particular seats require them, i.e., everything except corners and endzones, I think).


November 29th, 2012 at 6:41 PM ^

I talked to someone from the Victor's Club last year about this. I asked if the one-time donation of $500 for 5 points would put them ahead of someone that has been donating $100/year for 5 years and they said no. They just anticipated that 5 points would be sufficient to get offered. Of course I didn't, and now they are raising the qualification level, which leaves me SOL. The consolation is I still get to buy individual game tickets early and was able to secure 8 for OSU a couple years ago through the Victor's Club.


Thinking about it more, Alums with 5 points basically always had me beat anyhow, now they are just beating me by WAY more. This doesn't actually change the theoretical number of people in front of me, just the likelyhood of improving my seats goes down substantially.

That said, Michigan as a national/global brand I'm sure has MANY supporters that aren't alums, and they just made it a lot more difficult for them to get a decent ticket. For affluent fans, it may not matter much, but it will be tough to justify spending the $$$ for permanent endzone tickets. I guess it depends on your definition of affluent, but a $2500 donation is not in the budget for a middle class family with kids, which may turn off people like myself from donating in the future.


November 30th, 2012 at 12:31 AM ^

Call me crazy but I can’t imagine donating money to a university that I didn’t attend, or some family members I guess…  It really just comes down to paying money for better seats and some access, which again isn’t really worth the money to most people (especially people who didn’t go to the University)…  leaves me to believe that they are pandering to the alums as they are the best bet for the University.  Makes sense to me.  And as an alum I feel like I deserve better than someone else who didn’t go to the university; membership has its privileges after all.




November 30th, 2012 at 7:56 AM ^

You must be crazy, because I know several people including myself who grew up going to Michigan football and basketball games but ended up going elsewhere for school.  My situation was unique in that I had friends and family that had season tickets when I was a child and got to go to lots of games.  I choose to go to a school that allowed me to continue playing athletics (I wasn't good enough for D-1), turned down the opportunity to go to Michigan (yes I actually got in and didn't go as crazy as that might sound) yet I still donate money to the University.  Furthermore, this change really doesn't affect me, since alums just starting to donate would still be a long ways behind me on the priority points list, but to me this sends a poor message.  Michigan is a universal brand similar to the Yankees, the Dodgers, the Cowboys, the Knicks and so on.  I would bet that the Victors Club is made up of 30-40% of non-alums.  So yes you are crazy.  And just because you can't imagine someone doing something, doesn't mean someone else might think that same thing is normal.  You would think your Michigan degree would have helped you be more insightful.


November 29th, 2012 at 7:30 PM ^

i got season tickets in section 20 in 2009 with only one proirity point.  Right now i have 11.5.  so keep trying.  im sure you are close with the six points, especially if they would reduce the student section, creating more openings for season tickets.


November 30th, 2012 at 12:30 AM ^

Are you actually saying that it would be a good thing if the amount of students seats were reduced?  I think that is insane;  we are talking 18-23 year olds 'student athletes' playing football.  In a sense the only people who should be at the game are students...






December 2nd, 2012 at 3:38 PM ^

I've activated my points system and now I plan on donating 100 dollars a month.  


My only question is when I go donate more, how does it track it back to my victors account?


do I have to click on the online giving account and creat a friend account or can I just click on annual contribution and donate whatever amount and it links via email address?

what would your step by step process to donate and make sure the points link up to your account?  thanks a lot!



November 29th, 2012 at 2:38 PM ^

I think it's long overdue and fantastic.  Getting a degree from Michigan should matter when it comes to giving out the opportunities to buy the best seats (and that's all Priority Points are).  And being a varsity athlete should matter even more IMO.

When it comes to financially supporting the University I think you'd be hard-pressed to look at any Alum and say "you didn't do enough" regardless of their relative post-grad financial giving.  And anyone who spent the amount of time necessary in college to be a DI varsity athlete has contributed tremendously to the athletic department already and should be rewarded for those efforts.  


November 29th, 2012 at 2:38 PM ^

I always thought 10 points for giving probably every waking hour of 4 years of your life to Michigan Athletics was lame.

This sems reasonable and allows Athletes to start out with an advantage right out of school.


November 29th, 2012 at 2:39 PM ^

Anyone have any idea how likely people that are currently above the median points (20-ish or so) are NOT alums? 

The athletes get a big bump, but I'm not sure there are enough of them to really change much.  And, my thought is that most people above 20 points or so are alums anyways - so may not have much of an effect.


November 29th, 2012 at 2:53 PM ^

Max of 40 points for alum category (i.e, 2 people) and 80 points for the athlete category (i.e., 2 people).

Btw, polygamy and bigamy are both illegal in the U.S. so I doubt any U.S. based insitution would recognize that (and give you credit for it).


November 29th, 2012 at 4:07 PM ^

And Marriage in one state doesn't mean the federal governement recognizes it either. Trying to stay out of poilitics here... but for example a same sex couple with a Civil Union in Illinois can file joint state taxes but has to file individual federal ones.


I have no idea how the University would determine what constitutes "married" alumni or athletes.

Doc Brown

November 29th, 2012 at 5:25 PM ^

The university supports domestic partnerships. When the state of Michigan banned gay marriage about 5 or so years ago, the University was one of the louder critics against the statute. I have an old lab mate that lost the better health care coverage of her medical school resident wife when the measure passed and the University was forced to comply. 

*full disclaimer not taking a position. just informing* 


November 29th, 2012 at 2:52 PM ^

Five to twenty is a huge change, although I can definitely see the politics in that decision. Still, a lot of those people have done more for M football/basketball/hockey than I have, so a difference of $1500 doesn't seem that unreasonable to "buy in" (for lack of a better phrase) to that level. OTOH I believe fifteen points would be the same as having a single season ticket for fifteen years, two for 7.5 years and so on. It wouldn't be ideal to have a ton of people jump multiple year season ticket holders in points due to this and make the hypothetical non-alum move from a better location to a worse one. That's especially true if the people moving up had never bought season tickets before. I know I'd probably be upset if something like that happened to me.

The athletes definitely deserve all of the boost they're getting, though. If you were a varsity athlete and married a varsity athlete, why shouldn't you get a huge boost when it comes to tickets for...varsity athletics? In a perfect world, it would be nice to guarantee free tickets for football to former football players, basketball tickets for basketball players and so on. Probably not feasible, but still...


November 29th, 2012 at 11:34 PM ^

"It wouldn't be ideal to have a ton of people jump multiple year season ticket holders in points due to this and make the hypothetical non-alum move from a better location to a worse one."

Once you have your seats, you have the right of refusal on them moving forward.  In other words, someone can't bump you to a worse location.  Once you have tickets, the points are only useful if you want to upgrade to a better location, and that only happens if a better location becomes available (non-renewal, or someone else moving to different seats by their own choice.)


November 30th, 2012 at 12:40 AM ^

After seeing some of the other replies, I thought that might be the case. Thanks for clarifying.

I'd say this isn't a huge deal, then. I still think it sucks a bit for the longer invested non-alums, but if everyone can keep their current seats that definitely helps the situation. The people donating and buying seats once the new point rules are in place are a different story, but it would be nice to try and accommodate the non-alums already in the system somehow.