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The Business of College Football

By Jack Kochman, For The Miami Student

Universities are paying more and more money each year to ensure they play the games they want to. One example is the University of Michigan, who paid Miami University $1.1 million for their Sept. 13 matchup.

According to Fox Sports reports by Jesse Temple, the Big 10 conference is collectively giving over $22 million for games this season. On top of that, teams are already slated to give money years down the line. Miami is cued up to be the benefactor of another million dollars for playing the University of Wisconsin next season.

Wisconsin isn't the only big payday on Miami's horizon, athletic director David Sayler said.

"We've signed games into the future and some of those games get up to $1.2 or $1.5 million," Sayler said.

Bigger programs with bigger stadiums and committed fan bases have more money to spend on future years, Sayler said. Ohio State University, for example, has the fourth largest stadium in the country and is paying just under $2.1 million for three non-conference home games (Virginia Tech, Kent State University and the University of Cincinnati) this season.

"Each school drives that number on what kind of tickets they sell and the revenue they bring on an average game day," Sayler said.

The reason scheduling is so important is because it is increasingly difficult for schools to find non-conference matchups in the FBS. Schools from power conferences such as the SEC and Big 10 are working harder to get schedules that are winnable yet also difficult. In the newly founded playoff era, teams from the Power 5 conferences are willing to deal out more money to bolster their resumes and train their teams for conference matchups.

"Typically you are making these decisions four or five years ahead," Sayler said. "You don't know how your team is going to be at that time."

This is a problem for power conference schools that sometimes shuffle in the conference standings over the course of a few years.

Miami is not only getting paid for games, but is doling out its own money to weaker teams. The Sept. 6 game against Eastern Kentucky University cost Miami $275,000 for what turned out to be a losing effort.

So what do colleges do with the money that they make from these matchups? Miami has a budget of approximately $25 million for athletics each year. According to Sayler, this money is dispersed in a variety of ways.

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"[The money made] goes toward the overall budget to help cover scholarships and travel for all the teams," Sayler said.

The money is spread between many sports, as colleges want to compete and succeed in as many sports as possible.

As long as Miami and the Mid-American Conference as a whole stay near the bottom of national rankings, there will be teams willing to pay. Schools, such as Michigan, will almost always play FBS teams over FCS teams when given the chance.

It is important for schools to manage their money wisely if they want to succeed in the present and future. There are multiple factors Sayler said.

"I like to play teams that are driveable and also pay a large guarantee so we can then make a bus trip to go up there and keep as much of the money as we can to run our department," Sayler said.

A steady flow of money from playing other teams is necessary for a Group of 5 school to optimize their potential in athletics.