The Big Ten Conference’s announcement that its schools are limiting any fall sports competition to games against conference opponents will have financial ramifications not only for Big Ten schools, but also for schools across the country – especially in the Mid-American Conference.
Big Ten football teams had been scheduled to play 33 non-conference games at home. USA TODAY Sports has been able to obtain contracts for 26 of those games – and they had been scheduled to have total payouts to the visiting teams of nearly $22.2 million. That figure includes payouts connected to single, one-off games and games that were to be parts of series.
Most of this money was headed to schools in conferences outside the Power Five – schools that could be significantly impacted by the loss of revenue…
What could become an issue, however, is whether the language of the various contracts will result in the games being canceled with no payment due, or whether the Big Ten schools will have to either make payments for canceling the games or make arrangements for a future game.
For example, Ohio State’s contracts with Buffalo and Bowling Green state: “If it becomes impossible to play the football game for reasons of power failure, strikes, severe weather conditions, riots, war, or other unforeseen catastrophes or disasters beyond the control of either party, this Agreement may be terminated by either OSU or the Visiting Team, the football game shall be cancelled, and neither party shall be responsible to the other for any loss or damage.”
It would seem that the pandemic would qualify as a disaster “beyond the control of either party,” but there potentially is room for interpretation.
Er, did you say “room for interpretation”? We know what that means — mid-major schools may get screwed financially, but their lawyers will make out just fine.