Iowa will have a record-breaking football season regardless of what happens on the field.
The Hawkeyes paid nonconference opponent Louisiana-Monroe a school-record $1.05 million guarantee for the Sept. 24 game at Kinnick Stadium, according to contracts obtained by The Des Moines Register through the Open Records Act.
That’s $150,000 more than Iowa’s previous high payout of $900,000 — a 24-21 win against Arkansas State on Oct. 3, 2009.
“There are only so many schools that are willing to play games without a home-and-home relationship,” said Iowa associate athletic director Mark Abbott, whose job includes football scheduling.
Iowa generates $2 million per home game through ticket sales at 70,585-seat Kinnick Stadium, according to assistant athletic director Mick Walker. Therefore, like all BCS schools, the Hawkeyes schedule as many home games as possible. They have had an annual home-and-home series against Iowa State since 1977. Iowa is in the midst of a home-and-home situation with Pittsburgh, with this season’s game Sept. 17 at Kinnick.
Iowa’s other 2011 nonconference home games — against FCS Tennessee Tech on Sept. 3 and Louisiana-Monroe — are single-game agreements.
“Nonconference scheduling is always a challenge,” Abbott said. “It’s especially challenging when you’re not in a situation where you can always reciprocate.”
Nationally, the average payout for a nonconference football game in 2008 was just more than $330,000, according to a Des Moines Register survey of college football’s top-tier schools.
“We’ve scheduled a few years down the road, so I haven’t negotiated a contract for a while,” Abbott said. “But it doesn’t seem like there’s been any leveling off of the payouts.”
Louisiana-Monroe, which returns 10 offensive starters from last season’s 5-7 team, is receiving $1.3 million for its nonconference game at Florida State.
“We have to adopt a different model, and so do probably 30 to 40 schools in FBS,” Louisiana-Monroe athletic director Bobby Staub said. “It’s certainly an important revenue source for us; we have to do a couple games like this a year.”
Staub scoffed at a notion that the school was selling out the team to pad the athletic department wallet.
“You could say that there are some teams that finish toward the bottom of power conferences that sell out their teams eight times a year,” Staub said. “I think our kids look forward to playing these games.”
Sometimes they even pull off a shocker — like when Louisiana-Monroe beat Alabama 21-14 in 2007.
“Playing Iowa is a great opportunity to play at a fantastic venue,” Staub said. “And every once in a while, we pop one off — like Alabama.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football