NEW ORLEANS, JAN. 1 -- A Virginia athletic spokesman said the 435 people attending the Sugar Bowl festivities at team expense earned their passage to New Orleans.

"For most of these people, it's not a vacation; it's a working situation," said Rich Murray, the school's sports information director.

More than 150 people who traveled to New Orleans for tonight's bowl game against Tennessee didn't set foot on the Superdome turf, according to the Daily Progress of Charlottesville, which reported that Virginia's travel expenses amounted to nearly one-third of the school's take for the bowl game.

The university is spending some $700,000 for chartered flights to New Orleans and seven nights at the Riverside Hilton. For 191 athletic department employees and their families, the bill is $131,000 for lodging and $127,500 for transportation.

"There are opportunities to do other things," Murray said. "Because we took these people away during the holidays, we let them bring their families. These people work a lot of hours during the course of the year, so while they may not be working full-time while they are here they do work a lot of other hours for the team the rest of the year."

More than 250 persons represented the school on the field. The group included 109 players, 15 coaches, the pep band, cheerleaders, trainers and equipment managers.

The school gets $3.5 million for playing in the Sugar Bowl. The first $500,000 goes to the university. The next $100,000 goes to the Atlantic Coast Conference. The rest is split 50-50 between the school and the conference.