WASHINGTON, D.C. - In the context of problems being caused by Hurricane Irma, college sports business issues are relatively insignificant.
But they are part of the myriad moving parts athletics administrators must contemplate, especially because of the financial implications of canceling football games. Schools in Florida that were set to host games that cannot be rescheduled have to deal with potentially making millions of dollars in ticket refunds, and visiting schools that were due to receive significant guarantee payments may have to patch budget holes made larger by the additional prospective loss of money spent on travel arrangements.
In guarantee money alone, Louisiana-Monroe was due to receive $1.35 million from Florida State while Northern Colorado was to receive $625,000 from Florida. Contracts for guarantee games routinely include a provision saying that if any of a variety of circumstances -- including a hurricane -- make it "impossible or impractical to play the game," the contract is voided for that game and no payment is due.
However, with Irma’s full impacts on Florida and other states yet to be known, there are many potential scenarios.
"While there are many consequences as the result of the announced cancellation of Saturday’s football game at Florida State, our primary focus remains on the health and safety of all Florida residents. Many decisions likely will be made over the next couple of weeks after the full impact of Hurricane Irma is evaluated," Louisiana-Monroe athletics director Nick Floyd said in a statement Friday.
“During that period, we will review all options with Florida State and make every effort to reschedule the game. Multiple college football games have been canceled this weekend, and perhaps even more games will be impacted next weekend. If rescheduling the game with FSU isn’t viable, we certainly will explore all other options to schedule a twelfth game.
“The residents and first responders of the state remain in our thoughts and prayers as preparation for projected landfall continues. After the storm, the focus will shift to the recovery efforts. This is a fluid situation, and it wouldn’t be responsible to speculate any further.”
Northern Colorado athletics spokesman Ryan Pfeifer said Froday morning his school and Florida have no common dates available for a makeup game this season and the loss of the guarantee money likely would impact not only the football team, but also the department’s broader financial picture. He said school officials, while sensitive to all of the issues the state of Florida is facing, have taken some hope from Florida AD Scott Stricklin’s comment to the Gainesville Sun in which he said Northern Colorado has “been a great partner. We’re going to take care of them.”
Late Friday afternoon, Pfeifer added via email: "It's too early to answer about the guarantee with Florida. Obviously, the people there are dealing with a hurricane right now. At the right time, we'll work more with Florida officials to determine a resolution."
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