“You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours,” the saying goes. That may be the case here.
Matthew Dolan and David Jesse of the Detroit Free Press report:
The wealthy family who helped bankroll the University of Michigan football team’s recent overseas trip has received more than $100 million in investments from the university, according to a review of hundreds of U-M records.
U-M’s endowment has invested a total of $102 million in four private equity funds run by the son of U-M alumnus and mega-donor Donald Graham. Graham and his family foundation have donated more than $60 million to Michigan, including paying for half of the estimated $800,000 cost of the Wolverines’ trip to France last spring, organized by coach Jim Harbaugh.
It is the kind of financial back-and-forth that has troubled critics worried about how large donations to U-M and other elite universities could influence investment decisions worth billions of dollars.
“This case raises questions about a conflict of interest. Is Michigan acting in the best interest of the university or in the interest of a donor?” said Charlie Eaton, assistant professor of sociology at University of California, Merced, who is writing a book about Wall Street’s relationship with higher education. “My research suggests that this is not just a coincidence that Michigan is invested in its biggest donors.”