NIU football: Huskies set to make $555K from non-conference games


Redshirt junior quarterback Drew Hare scans the field in a game against the Central Michigan Chippewas on Oct. 11 at Huskie Stadium. When Hare and the Huskies play their two non-conference road games in 2015 the Athletic Department will pull in $1.25 million in guaranteed money.

By Frank Gogola

Football will generate a net $555,000 in guaranteed money through its four 2015 non-conference games.

The payments from one school to another for non-conference games — referred to as guarantee game money or guaranteed money — mainly help offset the away teams’ cost of travel, said Athletic Director Sean Frazier. Guarantee game money can also help fund the football program for road teams, which get to keep the money left after travel expenses are paid for, and home teams, which make money off of tickets and gameday expenses by fans.

Guarantee games on the road are also a way to help fund an entire athletic department for smaller schools from the Football Championship Subdivision or Div. II, which generally receive larger paydays — that are more highly publicized — because of the home team’s perceived chance at an easy victory.

The Huskies will pay $695,000 for their two non-conference home games and bring in $1.25 million for their two non-conference road games. The majority of the net money from the non-conference football games will go back to the football program, Frazier said.

“We take care of the football program; that’s our primary responsibility,” Frazier said. “We look at guarantees to make sure that we are pumping the dollars back in for the quality experiences to student-athletes. [The] football program has lots of different moving parts, and it’s a big operation. It principally goes to the debt service of the program itself.

“If there are monies that are left over in any regard that’s dispersed for the general operation of the Athletic Department, and that could mean support of other areas of the Athletic Department. But, principally, the money goes back to the operation of the football program.”

Nevada-Las Vegas

The Huskies will pay the Rebels $300,000 for their trip to Huskie Stadium on Sept. 5 for the season opener.

NIU received a $300,000 payment from the Rebels last season for its trip to Las Vegas. While the numbers wash out each other, the payment to NIU last season helped offset its travel costs, and the payment to the Rebels this season will fund their travel costs, Frazier said. Leftover money can be used as the programs see fit.

Murray State

The Racers, the Huskies’ lone FCS opponent of the season, will receive a $395,000 payment for their Sept. 12 trip to Huskie Stadium.

The Huskies aren’t scheduled to make a future trip to Murray State, hence a larger payout than the one given to the Rebels, which was a home-and-home series. The away schools tend to get a higher monetary payment when the home teams don’t make a return trip because there’s the loss of a chance for the original road team to make money and get exposure off of a home game, Frazier said.

Ohio State

The defending national champion Buckeyes will provide the Huskies with a payday of $900,000 for NIU’s Sept. 19 trip to Columbus, Ohio. This game was scheduled in January 2010 with no return trip to DeKalb for the Buckeyes.

The Buckeyes boast a trio of quarterbacks in Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones who could start for nearly any team in the country, but none has been named the starter yet. When the five-time defending MAC West champion Huskies play their first road game of the season they’ll look to take Ohio State’s money and a victory.

“Northern Illinois [is] a great program, very strong,” said Martin Jarmond, Ohio State executive associate athletic director in charge of football scheduling. “How many other schools in the country can say that they played in their conference championship game five years in a row? I think Northern Illinois, they’re right up there. They’re as tough as anybody on our non-conference schedule. They’re a quality program that’s used to winning.”

Boston College

The Huskies will collect a $350,000 check from Boston College for their trip to Chestnut Hill, Mass., for their final non-conference game on Sept. 26.

The Golden Eagles are scheduled to make a return trip to DeKalb on Sept. 23, 2016, or Sept. 2, 2017. They’ll get $300,000 from the Huskies, which is $50,000 less than their check to NIU because the Huskies incurred added costs to move a previously scheduled game to fit Boston College into their schedule. The Huskies were scheduled to host Wyoming on Sept. 26, 2015, but they moved that game to Sept. 11, 2021.

Future opponents

Playing quality opponents is even more important for Group of Five teams seeking the one automatic bid to a New Year’s Six bowl game with the dawn of the College Football Playoff in 2014. Frazier said getting top-notch opponents is a “real key issue” and a “real important issue for NIU,” but the price needs to be right.

“We feel that our brand and our brand of football is respected nationally,” Frazier said. “And we should be respected with a compensation number that’s worthy of who we are as an institution as well as a football program.”