OT: Big House Big Heart race cancelled

Submitted by JamesBondHerpesMeds on December 4th, 2012 at 10:29 AM

Strange decision by the Athletic Department on this one, especially given how popular the race had been over the past few years.  Anyone with more specific information on this?



Dear Big House Big Heart Participant, 



We apologize ahead for a lengthy email. It is with sadness that we announce that University of Michigan Athletics has decided that Big House Big Heart no longer fits into its charitable mission and therefore the race cannot finish in the Big House. At a meeting on Nov. 30 with two representatives of the Brandon Administration, Chrissi Rawak, Senior Assistant Athletic Director for Development and Rob Rademacker, Assistant Athletic Director for Facilities and Operations, we were told, "our decision was based on a several month long evaluation of our charitable work and relationships and need to streamline and organize those efforts. Unfortunately, the run doesn't fit into those plans."


We made it clear how much the race means to each participant, volunteer, committee member and the many charities (over 175) which count of substantial fund-raising from BHBH. We offered to give UM Athletics the race if they would continue to allow it to finish in the stadium. CFC was not made aware of any charitable assessment process. While we were advised BHBH would again be Spring Football Game Weekend, and of the rental price of the stadium, we had been waiting for several weeks for the final "OK" so that we could open registration and begin promoting the race, as well as helping non-profits build their fund-raising teams.

CFC has been very appreciative of being able to finish the BHBH race in the stadium these last 6 years and have been diligent to leave the stadium in better shape than when we entered. We know the extraordinary race finish has always been dependent on UM Athletics allowing access to the stadium and that priorities do change with administration changes.




If you wish to contact CFC about BHBH, please email [email protected]. If you have questions about the UM Athletic's decision, please contact them.




Your Champions For Charity Crew



December 4th, 2012 at 1:10 PM ^

Is that the Athletic Department doesn't put on the event. They simply provide the venue. Obviously there is some opportunity cost, but I believe the charity picks up the tab for the event itself. The AD is under no obligation to host any and all charitable happenings, but I don't think we can blame this one on "it costs too much to let the charity use our giant empty bowl for a few hours."


December 4th, 2012 at 1:34 PM ^

"While we were advised BHBH would again be Spring Football Game Weekend, and of the rental price of the stadium"

It sounds like the race pays a venue fee for use of the stadium. Maybe not as much as they charge for a wedding or other non-charity event? $6k a pop for one-hour wedding ceremonies is a nice payoff.


December 4th, 2012 at 10:35 AM ^

I'm pretty ticked off about this.  Other than the Dexter-Ann Arbor run this has turned into the premiere run in the Ann Arbor area in the last few years.     Tons of charities relied on it and I think the local running community loved it, it was my favorite local race.

I wonder what this "New Direction" for charitable fundraising is the UM AD is cooking up?  Hosting 4000 fund-raising runners at the Big House on a Sunday morning seems like a good idea to me....

Doc Brown

December 4th, 2012 at 11:45 AM ^

The summer is pretty standard as the 5-15K season, with the fall and spring as marathon season. I have no clue why they chose the summer for the A2 marathon. If they don't want to overlap with football season, then hold it in the spring. The flying pig is the only major spring marathon in the midwest. Heck, if they hold it early enough, then they could advertise the race as a last chance Boston Qualifier. 


December 4th, 2012 at 2:04 PM ^

I'm not sure your definition of "major" but Lansing's marathon is end of April.  Great time of year to run and its a pretty fast track as long as the the wind isn't blowing 40 mph again this year.  I think we had about 500 full marathon participants as opposed to about 800? at A2.  I ran in a2 all through undergrad and I can only assume that the marathon course would not be fun to try to BQ on even in the spring or fall.


December 4th, 2012 at 10:36 AM ^

And I'm pissed. It seems done in an underhanded way. If Brandon is into

Maximizing the fan experience this is a poor way to go about it.

The story about charity policy has got to be nonsense and seems a little fascist - when I choose to run in that race it's because I personally want to support the charities involved. It's my sweat that generates the donation. How comes DB thinks he can dictate the direction my charity should take?

Section 1

December 4th, 2012 at 2:03 PM ^

...so this isn't so much as an attempt at any serious rebuttal; but just to add to the discussion...

Previously, the BHBH run was on the day (in the early morning) before the Spring Game.  So it isn't a normal wedding time, and they are opening up the Stadium anyway, and etc., etc.

So by all measures that I know of, the event was basically zero inconvenience for the Athletic Department.  And it was a nice tie-in to the Spring Game as far as that went. 

It has to be something else; a re-branding and/or re-working of the Spring Game day-schedule; insurance/liability; the Athletic Department's own branding preferences; concern over associating with a charity endeavor that they have no control over, etc.

It is clear that the BHBH people have been so angered that they are going public with their dispute, which seems to me (I could be wrong) like an exercise in bridge-burning, unless they feel as though they can lobby Brandon to reverse the decision. 



December 4th, 2012 at 4:06 PM ^

Because they place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the athletic department. They could have been very vague about the reasons that they cancelled it and just said, "Certain plans fell through that were impossible to work around. We look forward to attempting to get this scheduled again in the future." They didn't say that and now the AD isn't going to be in any hurry to work with them in the future.

Section 1

December 5th, 2012 at 1:22 PM ^

Absolutely true; that it was a recent switch to join BHBH in the Spring Game festivities.  But of course a lot of things have changed, in an attempt to turn the Spring Game into a big, multi-event, cross-branding enterprise.  Tours, NCAA lacrosse, promotions, etc.

In any event, the last (previous) BHBH run (2012 Spring Game day) may now indeed be "the last" BHBH run.  It almost certainly won't be called "Big Heart Big House" if they do continue the run.

One of the leading forces behind the event was Ann Arbor attorney Mike Highfield who gave an additional statement in a Mark Snyder story for the Free Press, which has some additional info:

[customary warning as to Free Press link]:



December 4th, 2012 at 10:42 AM ^

odd decision, and without a credible explanation puts the UM Athletic Dept in a pretty bad light. From a public relations standpoint, Brandon needs to get out there immediately with an explanation that's not corporate marketing PR-speak gobbledegook horseshit mumbo-jumbo.


December 4th, 2012 at 10:44 AM ^

Oh man that is frustrating. I started running earlier this year and was really looking forward to finishing my first 5k without walking in the Big House. I feel personally betrayed by this.


December 4th, 2012 at 10:44 AM ^

I loved that race and was extremely exited about running it again, I was even sure to tell all of my new freshman friends who run about the race, and they all loved the idea too. This is bs until I hear an actual reason. How could a great event like this "not fit our plans?"


December 4th, 2012 at 10:45 AM ^

This isn't shocking, considering the source.  As annoying as this is, I welcome the idea of not being woken up on that weekend morning to the sound of terrible club music on repeat coming from the stadium.  Would it kill them to play a little CCR in the Big House?

Doc Brown

December 4th, 2012 at 10:47 AM ^

Reason #23903921 Dave Brandon is scrooge mcDuck. I am at the point where my high school x-Country speed is pretty shot. So, I pretty much just run for fun and keep myself in decent shape. I chose 5-15ks's based on the charity and the organization. BHBH was my favorite washtenaw county race. It supported many wonderful charities. I got the email also and I am still fuming. It offers zero logical explanation from the athletic department and points towards them only interested in maximizing their bottom line and not serving their community. 

Poor form Dave Brandon Poor form. 

turd ferguson

December 4th, 2012 at 10:49 AM ^

If Dave Brandon hadn't hired Brady Hoke, I would really detest him at this point.  Maybe there's more to this story, but it certainly fits with the type of leadership that we've been getting from this AD.

State Street

December 4th, 2012 at 10:52 AM ^

I heard Dave Brandon kills kittens, he must be evil.

Why don't we wait for the facts to come out?  The release makes it sound like some unethical stuff was going on behind the scenes with regards to the charities.  They would not cancel an event of this magnitude for no reason even, as many on the board will so hastily point out, the almighty dollar.


December 4th, 2012 at 10:57 AM ^

There could have been a whole slew of other options that would allow this race to remain on the docket and not torpedo a bunch of charity money in the process.  Why not have the finish on, say, the Diag?

Sure, there may be some attrition due to the loss of the Big House as a venue, but....to cancel it outright?  Seems a little bit fishy.


That said....I have my pitchfork ready.

turd ferguson

December 4th, 2012 at 11:18 AM ^

There are a whole lot of equally/more reasonable interpretations of that than charity indiscretion.  It could be spin from CFC, a decision by the AD to trim down its non-core charity work, a personal conflict between the two groups, and on and on.  No one said the AD is filled with bigots.  Stop constructing straw men.



December 4th, 2012 at 11:24 AM ^

Agree 100%. It's horrible optics from a PR standpoint to turn down any popular charity, and the athletic dept screwed up in not getting ahead of this from the get-go. Maybe they didn't anticipate that BHBH would release their statement now, but they should have.

Now Brandon has to make sure that he doesn't commit the cardinal sin of public relations: never turn a one-day story into a two-day story. He needs to speak to the media before the end of the day today to explain his department's reasoning here. Silence will be the worst thing.