SBD/Issue 242/College Football Preview

Small Colleges See Revenue Perks For Games Against Top Schools

Charleston Southern Will Earn
$450,000 For Playing At Florida
College football games where "lesser programs are paid lots of money in exchange for a presumed loss" are common, and "tight budgets and the faltering economy make these paydays ever more important for a small athletics department," according to a front-page cover story by Jack Carey of USA TODAY. These matchups "typically mean an easy home game" for the larger programs, and the "benefits of such an arrangement can be significant" for smaller schools. Ohio State (OSU) this weekend will pay Navy $1M for their game at Ohio Stadium, while Arkansas State will see identical payouts from Auburn next season and Virginia Tech in '11. OSU AD Gene Smith said, "I think $1[M] is going to be the market price in the coming years." In other games this weekend, Tennessee will pay Western Kentucky $700,000 for their game at Neyland Stadium, Michigan State will pay Montana State $650,000, Charleston Southern will earn $450,000 for playing at Florida and West Virginia will give Liberty a $365,000 payout. Michigan later this season will pay Delaware State $550,000 for their matchup at Michigan Stadium and Delaware State AD Derek Carter said that he plans to use the money to "improve facilities and purchase equipment" for the school's non-revenue producing sports. Carey notes because of a "schedule squeeze, the visiting team often is the one with the leverage. It can negotiate a higher price or break off talks and start dealing with another school." Smith: "It's an issue of supply and demand. ... There's not enough opponents out there, without scheduling the guarantee games" (USA TODAY, 9/3).

IT DOESN'T MATTER IF YOU WIN OR LOSE? In Orlando, Jeremy Fowler wrote by playing Florida on Saturday, Charleston Southern will receive the "kind of college football exposure only the Gators can provide," including the "recruiting visibility of the talent-rich state of Florida" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 9/2). The L.A. Times' Bill Plaschke said, "It's not just about the money, it's about the perception. They will be on national TV for people to see them as an underdog, as a team that is willing to swing for the fences, as a program that's willing to take a chance, as a program that's willing to embarrass itself to learn about itself. It is what college athletics is about." Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan: "They're going to get a paycheck they never could have gotten that many other schools are going to get. This is the best thing that could happen to them." But's Jay Mariotti said, "What about these kids? I think you're exploiting them" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 9/2). ESPN's Michael Wilbon said the BCS "should penalize teams that have these games." Wilbon: "I call it pay for slay." But ESPN's Tony Kornheiser argued, "If Charleston Southern is offered a game with Florida for that kind of money, 100 times out of 100 you have to take that game for the exposure" ("PTI," ESPN, 9/2).

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