Cost of doing business: Wisconsin to pay nonconference opponents $1.55M

Wisconsin will pay $1.55 million in total guarantees in 2014 for three home games at Camp Randall Stadium against Western Illinois, Bowling Green and South Florida.

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MADISON, Wis. — During a college football era in which the expense of guaranteed game day payouts continues to rise, Wisconsin has managed to reduce its cost — for one season, at least.

Wisconsin will pay $1.55 million in total guarantees for three home games in 2014 against Western Illinois, Bowling Green and South Florida. That number is down from the $2.4 million the school paid a year ago for three home games against UMass, Tennessee Tech and BYU.

FOXSportsWisconsin.com obtained the 2014 payouts via an open records request filed with the university.

Bowling Green will receive the most money to play Wisconsin ($800,000) because the Sept. 20 game represents a one-time guarantee and does not include a return trip. Western Illinois, meanwhile, will take home $450,000 to play at Camp Randall Stadium on Sept. 6.

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The Leathernecks represent the last team from the Football Championship Subdivision on Wisconsin’s schedule for the foreseeable future as Big Ten teams drop FCS opponents to increase strength of schedule with the College Football Playoff beginning this season. FCS teams generally receive payouts that are roughly half of what most FBS programs demand for a single game contract.

Wisconsin also will pay South Florida $300,000 for the teams’ Sept. 27 game. Because the contest is the first of a home-and-home series, however, the cost is significantly lower. South Florida will dole out $300,000 to Wisconsin when the teams meet Sept. 16, 2017, in Tampa, Fla., according to the game contract.

In addition to those three nonconference games, Wisconsin is set to earn $2 million for playing LSU in Houston in the season opener Aug. 30 as part of a deal with ESPN Regional Television Services. LSU will then take home $2.1 million when the teams play at Lambeau Field in 2016, which includes an adjusted 2.5 percent price increase for annual inflation.

A year ago, Wisconsin’s home game payouts reached $2.4 million based primarily on large guarantees with BYU ($1 million) and UMass ($900,000). Tennessee Tech, an FCS school, took home $500,000.

The money spent on guaranteed payouts is easily recouped on game day at Camp Randall Stadium, which seats 80,321 people. Last year, then-deputy athletic director Sean Frazier said Wisconsin made roughly $2.5 million on ticket sales alone for each nonconference home game.

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