The Pac-12 Conference’s decision Friday to join the Big Ten in limiting fall sports competition to games against conference opponents is the beginning of developments that could have significant financial consequences for other Power Five conference schools.
One of the games that will not be played under the Pac-12’s plan is between Alabama and Southern California that had been scheduled for ATT Stadium in Arlington, Texas, a game that was set to provide Alabama with a $6 million participation fee, according to a copy of that school’s contract for the event.
Southern California’s contract for the game is not available because it is a private school and, thus, not subject to open-records requests.
Alabama athletics director Greg Byrne said via Twitter on Friday evening his school “will do our best to adjust. What that looks like is to be determined.”
Friday’s decision also seems likely to impact what would have been another seven-figure guarantee game for a Pac-12 team. Colorado had been set to receive $1 million for playing Colorado State in Fort Collins. The schools’ more recent meetings had been played in Denver.
Most contracts for non-conference games include language that is intended to allow for the game to be canceled, with no payment due, if it is called off for reasons beyond the schools’ control. But the language in those agreements can be open to interpretation.
While the Big Ten’s move Thursday seems likely to have the greatest impact on the Mid-American Conference in terms of revenue that stands to be lost from football-game appearance guarantees, the Pac-12’s decision will affect the schools in the Mountain West and Big Sky conferences.
Mountain West teams had been scheduled to play six games at Pac-12 schools, with a total of $4.45 million in guarantees due to be paid. Utah State had been set to receive $1.5 million for playing Washington on Sept. 19, and Hawaii had games against Arizona and Oregon that were set to pay a combined $1.4 million.
Hawaii also is losing a home game against UCLA, and now has had what were supposed to be its first four games of the season canceled; Fordham previously had said it will not travel to Honolulu for a game that had been set for Sept. 12. At present, Hawaii’s first game would be against Nevada on Oct. 3.
New Mexico received $100,000 when it agreed in 2014 to play USC, and it was due to get another $950,000 after the game this year.
Schools from the Championship Subdivision-level Big Sky had seven games set up against Pac-12 teams that were scheduled to pay more than $3.3 million altogether. Cal Poly and Sacramento State were fixed for $625,000 paydays from California and Washington, respectively.
Another school that stands to be hurt by the Pac-12’s decision is New Mexico State, an independent that had been set to receive $1.2 million for a game against UCLA on Aug. 29.