Ex-Wolverines AD: ESPN paid for permanent lights at Michigan Stadium

ANN ARBOR, MI - OCTOBER 13:  A general field-level view of Michigan Stadium is seen during a game between the Wisconsin Badgers (15) and the Michigan Wolverines (12) on October 13, 2018 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
ESPN provided the cash for the permanent lights installed at Michigan Stadium nearly 10 years ago. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

You can thank ESPN for the permanent lights that are now at Michigan Stadium.

Former Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon appeared on Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh’s podcast this week. Brandon revealed that Michigan’s permanent lighting project at the football stadium was paid for by ESPN. Why? Because ESPN wanted to televise Michigan night games.

“We’d play those afternoon games and bring in those portable lights and there’s these shadows on the field,” Brandon said on the Attack Each Day podcast. “I actually got ESPN to pay for it. Didn’t cost us a dime. All we had to do was promise to play a night game once a year.”

Michigan installed permanent lights at its football stadium in 2010 ahead of an outdoor hockey game that was played between Michigan and Michigan State and the first home football game at night was against Notre Dame in 2011.

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The school statement at the time said “the total cost of the project is $1.8 million. Funding will be provided from Athletic Department resources.”

Those resources were confirmed to be ESPN by a spokesperson for the school to on Tuesday. And can you blame ESPN for paying for the deal? Paying less than $2 million for lights at Michigan Stadium in exchange for a primetime Michigan football home game once a year for the foreseeable future on an ESPN network is a great trade.

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Brandon, the chairman of Domino’s Pizza, was Michigan’s athletic director from 2010 to 2014. He resigned in October of 2014 following the school’s poor handling of quarterback Shane Morris’ head injury in a game against Minnesota. That game helped lead to the demise of the Brady Hoke era at the school and Harbaugh was hired to succeed Hoke.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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