The University’s Athletic Department withdrew from the 2013 Big House Big Heart charity run because it would prefer to host a similar event independently in the future, Athletic Director Dave Brandon said in an interview on the 1290 WLBY radio station Wednesday morning.
Brandon told WLBY that the race is “a good idea,” but monetary donations to charitable organizations can be increased if the University’s collaboration with Champions for Charity, the group that has organized the event for the past six years, is ended.
“If we can get more money routed to the charities because there isn’t a profit motive, we’re always going to prefer to go that route,” he said.
He added that the Athletic Department considers various aspects of a charity’s organization when considering a partnership, including management, finances and cooperation with the department.
The Big House Big Heart race, which was scheduled for April 14, offered participants 10-kilometer, five-kilometer and one-mile distances with all races culminating at the Big House’s 50-yard line.
Champions for Charity wrote in an e-mail to Big House Big Heart participants notifying them of the cancellation that it offered to yield the race to the oversight of the Athletic Department in exchange for use of the stadium, but the department was no longer interested in holding the event.
According to the e-mail, which was also posted on the charity’s website, Chrissi Rawak, the senior assistant athletic director for development, and Rob Rademacker, assistant athletic director for facilities and operation, told the charity in a Nov. 30 meeting the race doesn’t fit into the Athletic Department’s plans.
The e-mail stated that Rademacker and Rawak’s decision was “based on a several month long evaluation of our charitable work and relationships and need to streamline and organize those efforts.”
The organizers of the race said in the statement they were unaware of the Athletic Department’s re-evaluation process. They said they had agreed on the date of the event and the price for renting the stadium, but were waiting for the “final ‘OK’” from Brandon to open registration, promote the race and assist non-profits with fundraising.
After the race was cancelled by the Athletic Department and the organizers offered to hand over control of the race, they “made it clear how much the race means to each participant, volunteer, committee member and the many charities,” the statement said.
The statement also thanked participants and non-profit organizations for their role in the event’s success over the past six years and encouraged charities to fundraise through the 2013 Ann Arbor Marathon, which the group also organizes.
It singled out a few key actors in appreciation for their efforts, including the University’s athletes and coaches, Ora Pescovitz, the University’s executive vice president for medical affairs, Timothy Slottow, the University’s chief financial officer, and University Provost Philip Hanlon.
“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,” the charity said in the statement. “Our heartfelt thanks goes out to the thousands of people who were inspired by the race.”
The statement thanked participants and non-profit organizations for their role in the event’s success over the past six years and encouraged charities to fundraise through the 2013 Ann Arbor Marathon, which the group also organizes.
Daily News Editor Andrew Schulman contributed to this report.