MADISON, Wis. — A failed search for a person to lead the University of Wisconsin System has cost taxpayers about $216,000, a cost unlikely to be recouped because of contract language with the company hired to help find the next president.

According to records obtained by the Wisconsin State Journal, the UW paid about $214,000 to Storbeck Search and Associates. The contract with the company didn't specify a refund if the search failed. A new search will likely cost at least the same amount.

The presidential search collapsed in June when the lone finalist, University of Alaska System president Jim Johnsen, withdrew his name from consideration on the same day the search committee planned to make a hiring recommendation to the UW Board of Regents.

Among other expenses were nonrefundable travel-related costs. The total cost of the failed search could have been even higher had the pandemic not moved most meetings and interviews online.

Records show the search yielded 29 applicants. Storbeck's website lists the UW System presidential job on its list of completed searches without noting that no one has been hired.

Storbeck spokeswoman Katie Skeen said the company doesn't comment on past or current searches.

Former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson took the job on an interim basis in July and plans to stay for at least a year.