UMass will travel to Auburn to face the Tigers during the 2020 season, and the program is reportedly receiving a record payout (in a way) to do so. According to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, UMass will receive $1.9 million:
The Minutemen will play at Auburn on Nov. 14, 2020. The Tigers will pay UMass $1.9 million, according to athletic director Ryan Bamford. That’s believed to match the largest contract for a guarantee game between two Bowl Subdivision teams. Georgia is paying Kent State $1.9 million for a game in 2022.
Florida hosted UMass last season during Week 1 for $1.25 million. South Carolina also paid the Minutemen $1.5 million last year, for playing in Columbia, S.C. The school will get that same amount to play Georgia in 2018, too.
Power 5 teams paying out-of-conference lesser teams big money to travel to their home stadiums isn’t anything new.
There have been bigger game contracts, but they’ve involved unique context.
Florida paid Colorado State $2 million for its 2015 game, but that was part of Jim McElwain’s buyout from his CSU contract.
Nebraska paid $2.125 million in 2013 for Southern Miss for moving the game originally scheduled in Mississippi to Nebraska, but not for scheduling it to begin with.
These payouts are mutually beneficial.
The smaller schools get money that these programs thrive off, and the cash brought in by the home team isn’t all that different from cash from games scheduled against marquee opponents:
The gap in revenue depends mostly on ticket prices, because the best teams sell out their stadiums six-plus times per year no matter who they're playing.
"It's pretty similar," explained Ben Jay, a former Ohio State associate athletics director for finance and operations and Hawaii athletic director. "For the most part, you're going to sell out your tickets, and Ohio Stadium comes pretty close to selling out all the time. They do have those games, the non-conference games, where there's probably a couple thousand tickets to sell. But I'll tell you what: Overall, the net in the end is still nice, and also needed for a program like Ohio State. They need to net as much as they can from their football team, because it does pay for the rest of the department."
UMass now has two SEC teams on its 2020 schedule, with a road trip to Mississippi State scheduled for Oct. 17.