The weirdest early-game contract quirks

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Division I college football programs are pulling in big money by scheduling non-conference opponents in ‘guarantee’ games.
USA TODAY Sports

The early college football schedule is almost exclusively comprised of non-conference games. They are being governed by individually negotiated contracts.

Here are some of the more notable provisions from contracts for this weekend’s games.

► Florida A&M at Arkansas, War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. Arkansas agreed to pay Florida A&M $750,000 if its band – the famed Marching “100” – attended the game, or $700,000 if the band did not attend. The band will not be on hand for the game, director Shelby Chipman said Monday. Meanwhile, Florida A&M is saving money on transportation by having its traveling party go to the game by bus – about a 10-hour trip from Tallahassee to Little Rock.   

► Nevada at Northwestern, Ryan Field. Northwestern’s contract with Nevada states that Nevada will be given 75 free game programs to be delivered to its dressing room at least one hour before the game. Under the deal’s original terms, set in January 2016, the game was to be played Sept. 16 and Nevada was to be paid $1.2 million. But when the date was changed four months later, the payment was increased to $1.3 million.

► Tulsa at Oklahoma State, Boone Pickens Stadium. Tulsa’s game at Oklahoma State was 11 years – and three date changes – in the making. It was set up under a three-game contract made in May 2006 that also included the terms of four-game men’s basketball series. Initially set to have been played in 2012, it was moved to 2016, then to this year. Finally, this past May, it was moved from Sept. 2 to Aug. 31 for TV purposes.

► West Virginia vs. Virginia Tech, FedEx Field. Under their contract with the Washington Redskins’ stadium management company to play at FedEx Field, Virginia Tech and West Virginia had to use “reasonable efforts” not to play each other in a bowl game following the 2016 season.

 

► Howard at UNLV, Sam Boyd Stadium. Howard University is scheduled to receive $600,000 to play Nevada-Las Vegas, but university officials had to agree to specific series of activities in cooperation with UNLV and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to promote the game and encourage fans to travel to Las Vegas for the game. In addition, at its own expense, Howard had to arrange for its band and cheerleaders to arrive in Las Vegas by noon the day before the game to participate in various events. Failure to fulfill any of the obligations would allow UNLV to reduce the guarantee by up to $300,000. This is part of a three-year arrangement between UNLV and the convention and visitors bureau to bring a historically black college or university team to Las Vegas for a game, authority spokesman Jeremy Handel said.

► Alabama vs. Florida State, Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech. Both at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The contract for each of the four teams participating in a Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta – Alabama, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Tennessee – said that in the weeks leading up the game, the organizers could stage a “Spirit Day” at a Chick-fil-A restaurant in the school’s city. If one was held, the school had to provide cheerleaders and mascots to appear.

► Louisville at Purdue, Lucas Oil Stadium. The 20-page lease agreement that Purdue and Louisville signed for the use of Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium said the schools could get a title sponsor for the game, but it was subject to the stadium management’s approval, and could not promote any product or service that competes with Lucas Oil products. In addition, the Indianapolis Colts – the stadium’s primary tenant — had to give permission for any agreement that might conflict with a deal they have with anyone on a three-page, single-spaced list of sponsors. However, Learfield – the schools’ marketing firm – did find a sponsor: Ally Financial, and so the game officially is the Ally Classic.

► Utah State at Wisconsin, Camp Randall Stadium. It wasn’t part of Gary Andersen’s buyout, but in October 2013 — about 10 months after leaving Utah State to become Wisconsin’s head coach — Andersen was one of the signatories to the deal that is giving Utah State $1.2 million to play the Badgers. After the 2014 season, Andersen left Wisconsin to become Oregon State’s coach.

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