Michigan coach’s contract requires the school provide him with private aircraft time for recruiting. USA TODAY Sports
Jim Harbaugh’s contract with the University of Michigan requires the school to provide him with private aircraft time “as reasonable and necessary for all recruiting purposes.” During a 12-day stretch in his first month on the job in 2015, Harbaugh and his staff’s jet travels amounted to more than $10,000 a day in value, university records show.
The documents were provided Thursday in response to a public records request USA TODAY Sports filed in August.
Records for the recruiting season recently completed are not yet available. Harbaugh and his staff put together a highly regarded class that includes players from 13 states, including California, New Jersey, Florida, Georgia and Alabama.
The 2015 records give a glimpse into the scramble that Harbaugh and his staff made to finalize their first recruiting class during the weeks before national signing day.
Traveling alone or being accompanied by as many as three assistants at a time, Harbaugh racked up 18 jet-travel legs from Jan. 19 through Jan. 30. There were another five “dead” legs involving no passengers, and an assistant coach had one solo travel leg. There was only day during that period for which no private-jet trips were logged.
Altogether, the total value came to nearly $136,000.
That amount is almost the entire difference between what Michigan reported spending on football recruiting during its 2013-14 fiscal year versus its 2014-15 fiscal year. In 2013-14, it spent $584,721, according to the school’s annual financial report to the NCAA. In 2014-15, it spent $739,337 – a year-over-year increase of more than 26%.
In addition, the documents show that Harbaugh took advantage of another perk provided under his seven-year contract, which included compensation of $5 million and a $2 million signing bonus. The university agreed to reimburse Harbaugh for up to $30,000 in legal fees incurred in negotiating the deal, and that was the amount his attorney, Jeffrey S. Klein, invoiced the school for in January 2015.
The contract of Harbaugh’s predecessor, Brady Hoke, did not specifically address travel for recruiting purpose. Hoke’s agreement required the university to provide an annual allowance of up to $100,000 for charter air travel expenses that could be used for business travel only. Hoke and Harbaugh both had provisions in their deals that required the university to provide them first-class airfare when traveling for program-related business
Harbaugh’s contract also includes a provision under which he is annually entitled to 25 hours of university-paid flight time “on a private aircraft capable of traveling non-stop in the continental United States.” Any unused personal hours from one year can be carried forward for up to one additional year.
Harbaugh used a little more than $32,000 worth of this personal jet time between his hiring date – Dec. 29, 2014 – and Aug. 21, 2015, the date on which USA TODAY filed a records request asking the university to provide information about all of Harbaugh’s use of private aircraft for recruiting and personal purposes through that date.
Citing exemptions to public records allowed under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act, the university interpreted that to mean it could shield information that “could lead to the identification of prospective student-athletes” or “would constitute an unwarranted invasion of an individual’s privacy.” For the recruiting-related flights, Michigan refused to disclose all flight destinations other than Detroit and Grand Rapids, Mich., as well as the lengths of the flights and the cost of each individual leg.
For the four personal flight legs, all information was redacted except for the type of aircraft and the total cost.
Jim Harbaugh’s methods of coaching have once again upset the SEC. USA TODAY Sports
The WHO’s statement says, “Women who are pregnant should discuss their travel plans with their health care provider and consider delaying travel to any area where locally acquired Zika infection is occurring.”
The WHO also said that while the virus is spread by mosquitoes and not person-to-person, there have been a small number of documented cases of sexual transmission of the virus. Due to this, the agency writes that until more is known about the risk, men and women who return from places where there is Zika should practice safe sex. In addition, the agency also recommends that people visiting places where Zika is circulating take usual precautions like using insect repellant.
The WHO says that based on current evidence, it is not recommending travel or trade restrictions.
Travel groups are slamming a Republican effort to nullify the regulations that require airlines to include taxes and fees in price quotes for flight tickets.
The Travel Technology Association and American Society of Travel Agents said the proposal, contained in an amendment to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funding measure, “would actually have the opposite effect of its purported intention and further frustrate consumers’ ability to comparison shop.
“The proposed legislation will reverse a well-reasoned U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) consumer protection regulation on this very issue that was adopted in 2011 and made effective in 2012,” the groups wrote in a letter to leaders of the House Transportation Committee.
“That regulation requires the display of the all-in air fare (including taxes and mandatory fees), but also allows airlines to separately display these taxes and fees in a conspicuous format consistent with the DOT rule,” the travel groups continued. “If the purpose of the proposed legislation is to allow airlines to display the level of airline taxes and fees so that the public can be advised, the current DOT regulation already allows this.”
The amendment to eliminate the rules for airfare quotes, which are predominantly given online, was filed by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.).
The amendment revives an unsuccessful 2014 measure that was dubbed the Transparent Airfares Act. That bill was championed by airline advocates, who argue that the government is hiding taxes from passengers.
“We believe airline customers deserve to know how much of the advertised ticket price is actually going to federal taxes, while still knowing the full price of air travel before they purchase a ticket,” the group that lobbies for most major carriers, Airlines for America, said in a statement that was provided to The Hill on Wednesday.
“Rep. Curbelo’s amendment will make airfare more transparent for consumers, while also holding Washington accountable for taxes it imposes on everyone who flies,” the airline group continued.
The advertising rules were enacted by the Department of Transportation (DOT) in 2012 as part of the administration’s push to implement protections for airline customers. Those rules have been dubbed by some observers as the “Passenger Bill of Rights.”
The regulations included a ban on holding passengers on airport tarmacs for longer than three hours and a requirement that airlines refund baggage fees when they lose luggage.
Passenger advocacy groups on Wednesday said the amendment to overturn the 2012 advertising rules for flight tickets is “a gift to airlines.”
“The amendment would effectively reverse [the 2012] DOT rule and undermine a critically important consumer protection that was adopted as a cure to airline bait-and-switch advertising,” the Business Travel Coalition said in a statement.
Lawmakers in the House are scheduled to hold a hearing on the proposed FAA funding measure on Thursday. The agency’s funding is currently set to expire on March 31.
The FAA bill is one of the few must-pass pieces of legislation left on the congressional agenda this year. As such, it also represents an opportunity for lawmakers looking for a vehicle on which to attach pet issues.
Worldwide concerns over the Zika virus, current gas prices and a strong U.S. dollar means now is a great time for Americans to travel, according to AAA.
The travel company says it’s seeing great deals on international vacations. The company also says the strength of the U.S. dollar and gas prices have a lot to do with it. There are currently favorable exchange rates for people traveling to places like Europe and Australia, AAA says. They say they have not seen many requests to outright cancel trips, but have had a lot of customers asking to push their international travel back later in the year.
Low fuel prices have helped send airfares to a six-year low. The average price for a domestic ticket is about $372.
AAA encourages travelers to be informed about the virus and the countries affected by it, but notes federal health officials have not issued travel restrictions to countries with active virus transmission.
The Zika virus has been spreading rapidly across Central and South America. It is suspected of causing a birth defect that results in babies to be born with abnormally small heads. It is spread through mosquito bites, blood to blood contact and sexual activity.
While the outbreak is most severe in Central and South America, cases have been reported in countries including the U.S. and now China. Olympic athletes scheduled to compete in Rio this summer have expressed concerns about the virus; Brazil is the country at the center of the Zika outbreak.
Some small U.S. companies are getting an influx in calls — and in some cases, unexpected business— due to fears about the Zika virus.
The virus often produces either no symptoms or mild ones like fever in adults, but an outbreak in Brazil has been linked to a rare birth defect that causes a newborn’s heads to be smaller and brain development issues. Outbreaks also have been reported in parts of Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and the Americas.
Pest control companies in Texas are getting a surge in business because of concerns that mosquitoes bearing the Zika virus will arrive from neighboring Mexico. The companies are already spraying homes, schools and other properties; usually they don’t start until April.
Darryl Nevins’ Mosquito Joe franchise in Houston began getting an increase in calls last week after news reports of seven cases of Zika virus in the metropolitan area. None of the cases resulted from mosquito bites in Texas, the reports said, but people aren’t taking chances and want their property sprayed.
“It’s not just residential customers, what we primarily had in the past,” Nevins says. “Schools, day care, commercial customers with a park nearby are calling and asking, ‘What do we do to protect outdoor seating?’”
Nevins says he’s getting 15 inquiries a day, which is very unusual for this time of year. Even in the middle of the summer, he says, the company typically only gets 10 calls a day. Based on the demand Nevins is seeing, he expects to double his staff of four workers to handle the spraying.
In North Austin, Texas, Karyn Brown’s Mosquito Squad franchise has been getting calls since mid-January — a marked change from typical years, when the phone doesn’t ring until April. Some of her customers want their property sprayed, while others want information about how mosquitoes spread the virus.
Brown is considering hiring more workers to handle a heavier workload.
“I feel a little guilty — I don’t want to profit off something so negative,” Brown says.
Jim Grace’s travel insurance company is selling more policies known as “cancel for any reason” coverage because of the Zika virus. Unlike regular insurance, it allows a traveler to be reimbursed if they just don’t want to make the trip. Grace, CEO of InsureMyTrip in Warwick, Rhode Island, estimates his sales of these policies are up between 15 percent and 20 percent from last year because people are on the fence about vacations or business trips to affected areas.
“As long as it’s at least 48 hours before you have to depart,” you can say, I’m not going,” Grace says.
In many ways, the Zika outbreak is like past outbreaks of disease in that it has created business for some U.S. companies, while hurting others. During the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa in 2014, companies that sold protective clothing like hazmat suits had increased sales because of demand from customers like medical facilities. On the flip side, companies that arranged safari tours to Africa lost some of their business because would-be travelers were afraid they might catch the disease.
There was some concern in the travel industry that people would cancel some trips to places like Brazil because of the Zika virus.
But the trade group American Society of Travel Agents says its members aren’t losing money to the virus so far — they’re reporting few outright cancellations, where people, concerned about the virus, cancel trips and don’t pick another destination. Still, customers are calling agents with questions about the virus.
“In this case with the Zika virus, if it tracks along the same lines as some other recent travel concerns, there will only be a small shift in booking patterns,” spokeswoman Jennifer Michels says. “Some travelers, if they do cancel, will simply ask advice on somewhere else to go and how to best switch their itineraries.”
Still, some small businesses are concerned about how the virus might affect travel.
Wedding planner Danielle Rothweiler is worried about her revenue. She’s already suggesting that the engaged couples she’s working with look at places like Greece rather than Mexico. She’s concerned that even if couples have their hearts set on a Caribbean wedding, relatives and friends will balk at traveling to an affected area. Faced with that kind of opposition, many couples are likely to get married near their homes and have simpler weddings, says Rothweiler, owner of Rothweiler Event Design in Verona, New Jersey. If that happens, she believes she’ll lose business.
“The odds that they’ll hire a planner for a local wedding are not great,” she says.
Follow Joyce Rosenberg at www.twitter.com/JoyceMRosenberg. Her work can be found here: http://bigstory.ap.org/content/joyce-m-rosenberg
Turkey, a growing travel destination in recent years, has been a repeat terrorist target in recent months. Before you book that Turkish trip – or cancel it — consider these five points.
The U.S. State Department is increasingly nervous. On Feb. 4, the agency warned Americans against travel to southeastern Turkey because of “an increased threat of terrorist attacks,” perhaps from an international terror organization, perhaps from an indigenous one.
But not all the trouble is confined to the southeastern area near the Syrian border. On Jan. 12 in Istanbul, a killer in his 20s with Islamic State ties detonated a bomb-rigged vest, killing 10 German tourists and himself at one of the city’s busiest tourist spots, the Sultanahmet District. That area, which includes the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia, is basically ground zero for travelers in a city famed for its position straddling Europe and Asia.
Turkish officials have said that the bomber had entered the country as a Syrian refugee. His attack followed multiple terrorist killings last year, including an Oct. 10 bombing in Ankara that killed more than 100. On Jan. 14, just two days after the Istanbul bombing, came a car-bomb-and-gunfire attack on a police headquarters in Turkey’s southeastern Diyarbakir Province, killing another five people or more. Government officials blamed that attack on Kurdish separatist terrorists, whose history of clashes with Turkish government troops is long and bloody.
Despite a slowdown at the end of the year, American travel to Turkey was up in 2015.
Turkish government figures show 798,787 Americans visited the country in 2015, up 1.8% from the year before.
And those Americans had plenty of company. Turkey’s Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman history, its beaches, landmarks and architecture drew 36.2 million tourists in 2015, which puts it among the world’s six most popular destination countries. Its international tourist traffic has doubled over the last decade.
Though Turkey is 99% Muslim, its government is a secular democracy and Istanbul (population 14 million) is as worldly as a city can be. In summer months, the waterfront hosts dozens of international cruise ships (although some cruise lines have shied away since August). Budget travelers often assemble itineraries with Istanbul stops because Turkish Airlines typically has some of the lowest prices on transatlantic routes.
That said, traffic began slipping in July, and December’s international arrivals were down 7.29% from the year before, Turkish statistics show.
The Russians are backing away. Over the last four years, Turkish beaches became a leading vacation spot for Russians, who were allowed to enter Turkey without needing visas. For most of 2015, Russian visitors far outnumbered Americans. In fact, only German sent more tourists to Turkey. But after the Nov. 24 downing of a Russian military plane by Turkish forces near the Turkey-Syria border, Russia started warning its travelers to avoid Turkey. The Russian news agency Sputnik has speculated that more Russians will head to Cuba, China and Vietnam as a result of the change.
Turkey now has enough Syrian refugees to fully populate the cities of San Francisco and San Diego. War-ravaged Syria is Turkey’s southern neighbor. And though Turkey has tried to rebuff new refugees, that border isn’t especially secure. The United Nations Refugee Agency estimated on Dec. 31 that 2.5 million Syrian refugees had entered Turkey, taxing the country’s infrastructure.
It’s more than 500 miles from Istanbul to the Syrian border. To the devastated Syrian city of Aleppo, it’s about 750 driving miles. Istanbul, the hub of Turkey’s tourism, is at the northwestern end of the country. The nearest borders are Greece and Bulgaria. The Turkish tourist destinations Bodrum and Ephesus are on the country’s west coast and Cappadocia is central, still more than 300 miles from the Syrian border. Most American tourists never get to southeastern Turkey, where the border is.
When my kids were teens we had a rule about how much they should pay attention to celebrities.
“Think about them as much as they think about you,” I said.
“MOM!” they would pout. But it worked.
This is the same rule that should apply to posting of vacation pictures on social media. If your Instagram pals or Facebook friends are constantly posting photos from their trips and adventures, never thinking of anyone except themselves and their own fabulous life, stop following them. Just stop.
And don’t you be a travel bore, either.
Basically, when it comes to social media and travel, less is more. The more fantastic your trip, the less you should post.
I’m here, you’re not
A 2015 study at the University of British Columbia found that the posting of travel photos “is a leading contributor to Facebook envy.” Seeing photos of other people’s fantastic trips makes Facebook users so anxious and envious that it leads to a “vicious cycle of jealousy and self-importance” that causes users to post whatever they can to try to convince the world that their own lives are just as exciting.
Another sad statistic? About 18% of the world’s beachgoers actually admit that they post photos from trips with the primary goal of making others jealous, an Expedia study found in 2014.
That may just be the worst reason of all for traveling. It cheapens the experience, making the trip not a joyous exploration but a mean, self-centered exercise in narcissism.
In addition, it makes you a travel bore.
It’s the equivalent of Uncle Harry in 1958 forcing neighbors to watch three hours of slides of his trip to St. Louis. Don’t let that be you.
Let kindness rule
When friends are on trips, I love seeing a few photos, just so I know they are safe and well.
I don’t have a problem with an Instagram collage or two of beautiful places.
Yet, if I am reporting from a hot destination while back home it’s 10 degrees, I post very little. Something funny? OK. Something gorgeous? I think twice.
And if you are a person who travels a lot, you must be most careful of all. You don’t have to trumpet every trip. You don’t have to post about trekking in Nepal followed by your cruise to Antarctica, followed by your craft beer tour of California, followed by daily posts from every national park in the United States of America followed by your quick weekend getaway to Paris.
Modesty is the best policy, unless you want to be boring, boring, travel boring — plus make friends and family feel sad and anxious.
So let me ask you, readers, How many posts does it take before you unfollow a bragging traveler?
What are your rules about posting while on a trip? What are your thoughts? Most outrageous examples? Let me know and I will follow up this column in a couple weeks.
Contact Detroit Free Press Travel Writer Ellen Creager at email@example.com.
When we say travel makes you “smarter,” we don’t mean you’re all of a sudden going to become a genius. (If that happens, let us know in the comments.) But traveling will certainly make you more worldly, force you to think in different ways and help you to embrace unique cultural practices. All of which will ultimately create more neurological connections in your brain, making you quicker to react, think through logic and work through problem solving more efficiently.
“One should not pursue goals that are easily achieved.” – Albert Einstein
What Einstein said is at the root of what this brief discussion is about. You’re only as smart as your experience, and if you don’t challenge yourself past your comfort zone — you’re setting limits on your potential that need not be there. Both new experiences and doing things you already know — the hard way — will keep your cognitive skills sharp.
You Meet New People
As you go through life, you’re going to meet great people, inspiring people, kind people and strange people. You’re also going to meet people you don’t like. A lot of them. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Every person you meet has a story and a reason why they are who they are. Always remember that before you pass judgement.
However, crucially, your interactions with all of these individuals throughout your life will impart experiential knowledge upon you.
This knowledge will come in all forms — from learning new skills and improving your storytelling, to learning how to take the high road in difficult situations. Slowly you’ll discover that by default, you have a new found confidence in yourself, but not a cockiness.
Your social skills will also improve, which will lead to better future conversations and allow you to learn more about the people you come into contact with. You’ll enhance your understanding of all kinds of people, become more open-minded in general and heighten your appreciation for diversity.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain
Expand Your Palate
Traveling will allow you to sample a wide array of new foods and beverages. No matter where you’re from, some ingredients will be familiar and others will be foreign. The best advice I can give you, (unless you’re allergic) is to try them. Try the most obscure item on the menu. Maybe it will lead to a great story down the road. In any case, you’re exposing your brain to new sensations and flavors. Even if it’s a food you know – perhaps country X uses tomato sauce and country Y uses a melted cheese blend – change it up.
Taking this a step further, inquire about how a dish you like is cooked. When you get home, show your friends and teach your children. Spread good culture.
“Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you’ve travelled.” – Mohamed
Learn New Languages
Most of the time when we travel to a country where we’re not familiar with the language, we struggle to get by. Utilizing grunts, hand signals or putting a foreign-sounding accent around our English (I know, I’m guilty) will only get you so far. What we can do, however, is try.
Learning a new language is not easy and it’s not something you’re going to pick up on a short trip abroad. However, locals generally really appreciate it when a tourist makes an honest attempt to speak their language.
Even if you’re timid, learn the basics before your trip to a foreign country. When you get there, expand on them. If you find a local who also speaks your language, engage them in conversation and ask them for words to add to your arsenal. Learning to ask for directions, using please and definitely thank you, will give a native a better first impression.
Some of these experiences you may never immerse yourself in again. Others you’ll find so riveting, so breathtaking that you won’t be able to stop doing them. In either case, what’s important is that you sample that experience. You’ll never know until you try, and you never know what positive outcome it may yield. Whether immediate or later in life. What if that experience leads you to a business idea that changes the world for the better? Go for it.
“Bizarre travel plans are dancing lessons from God.” – Kurt Vonnegut
Become More Self-Sufficient
Traveling, especially solo traveling, will challenge you extensively. Often we don’t even realize how much we’re wearing ourselves down or challenging our problem solving skills. At the end of the day, if you’re still standing, you’ve bettered yourself. You’ve learned new skills, whether they be navigating a foreign city by subway, or learning the basics of a language, you can use this knowledge in future situations.
You learn through traveling that you don’t need anyone else to get by. You just need your own head on your shoulders, a positive mindset and a will to live in the moment.
“Travel and change of place impart new vigour into the mind.” – Seneca
Become a Better Traveler
While this is related to self-sufficiency, it’s a little different in that you’ll learn a specific skill-set that will deepen your travel experience and make the process more efficient.
For example, I tend to overpack. After every trip I embark on, I’m slowly learning what I really need to bring and what’s overkill. The next time I travel, I’m packing less, folding better, and checking fewer bags. You’ll also learn how to hail cabs in different languages, become knowledgable about travel hacking and become more budget-conscious throughout your trips.
“Once you have travelled, the voyage never ends, but is played over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” – Pat Conroy
Learn New Skills
Staying in hostels, being a dinner guest in a foreign home, going on rugged hikes, playing a game of pickup football with Argentines — all of these examples can help you learn new skills and tricks. From cooking a new dish to doing a bicycle kick. I recently learned how to scuba dive in a dry suit abroad — something I had never been able to do before in the U.S.
Taking part in these unique experiences will help you learn new skills. While short trips won’t always give you time to hone them fully, even briefly practicing a new skill can go a long way.
See Unique Things
Every country has something unique to offer. From stunning landscapes to amazing animals or mind-blowing architecture. See something different. It might inspire you to create something great or embark on a unique quest. Always keep an open mind.
“The world is a book and those who do not travel only read one page.” – St. Augustine
The most crucial thing to keep in mind when you travel is to live in the moment. If you see something that makes your draw drop, take it in for a few minutes – before you pull out your camera. Be here right now. Ultimately, this will allow you to be inspired. Whether it’s by the people you meet while you’re abroad, or by something you see. That inspiration can only make you a happier, progressively smarter person.
Greig Santos-Buch is an avid traveler, wine connoisseur and saltwater enthusiast. He writes frequently about methods for travel at little to no cost. Learn about wine and efficient travel by following his scenic journeys on on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and his website, Winederlusting.com.
The school system initially banned travel to the city after the April riots before reinstating it as the trials of the six Baltimore police officers charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray began in December.
Harford County schools Superintendent Barbara Canavan said they make a weekly determination about whether it is safe for students to travel, both domestically and overseas. She said a similar travel ban was instituted regarding overseas travel after the terrorist attacks in Paris last year.
“We received feedback about our decision and accusations surrounding our reasoning and want to reiterate that it is never an easy decision to cancel something that our students are looking forward to experience,” Canavan said in a statement. “We take great pride in what Baltimore City, and our entire state, has to offer our students as well as students across the country.
“However, our number one priority is and will remain the safety of our students. We will always err on the side of caution and will continue to act upon the input and information we receive from law enforcement agencies.”
Harford County schools were criticized by some elected officials and leaders in the city for its decision. Canavan said the school system lifted the city travel ban for athletics on Feb. 2 and opted to lift it for other school-sponsored travel this week following their weekly conference call with law enforcement and continued internal dialogue, as the trials have been postponed and information from law enforcement agencies supports this decision.
“We have a long history of supporting the cultural attractions in Baltimore City and look forward to continuing our visits to and nurturing our students’ appreciation for these cultural offerings and athletic opportunities in Baltimore City and across the state,” Canavan said.