UT paying four non-conference teams $3.1 million to play at Neyland

Total higher than usual for football games

A look at UT football’s non-conference payouts for the past five seasons:

2007

Southern Miss $600,000

Arkansas State $625,000

Louisiana-Lafayette $750,000

Total: $1,975,000

2008

Ala.-Birmingham $750,000

Northern Illinois $725,000

Wyoming $200,000

Total: $1,675,000

2009

Western Kentucky $700,000

UCLA $300,000

Ohio U. $750,000

Memphis $250,000

Total: $2,000,000

2010

UT Martin $350,000

UAB $750,000

Oregon $350,000

Total: $1,450,000

2011

Montana $500,000

Cincinnati $950,000

Buffalo $900,000

Middle Tennessee St. $750,000

Total: $3,100,000

Starting with a $500,000 check for Saturday's football season opener against the University of Montana, the University of Tennessee will pay its four nonconference opponents a combined $3.1 million, which is at least $1.1 million more than what it has doled out per year since 2007.

That figure is higher than normal this year because the Vols do not typically shell out high, six-figure guarantees to four schools in a single season.

The biggest payout will come next week, as the University of Cincinnati will receive $950,000 for its trip to Neyland Stadium. Middle Tennessee State will receive $750,000 to serve as the homecoming opponent in November.

Buffalo, which was a controversial late replacement for a road game at the University of North Carolina on the 2011 schedule, will net $900,000 for playing the Vols on Oct. 1.

Last August, UT bought out of its home-and-away contract with the Tar Heels for $750,000 because UNC was unwilling to move the game to a "later date in the decade," former athletic director Mike Hamilton said at the time. The goal behind the decision was to lessen the pressure on head coach Derek Dooley in his second year with the Vols by breaking up a schedule front-loaded with tough competition.

UT has yet to announce what team will replace North Carolina on the 2012 schedule.

The combined $1.65 million it took to buy out of the series will be offset by what UT will earn for hosting an extra game this season. The average revenue generated at Neyland Stadium when hosting a Mid-American Conference team such as Buffalo is approximately $3 million, Hamilton said last year.

This season's tally is the highest since 2009, when the Vols paid a combined $2 million to Western Kentucky, UCLA, Ohio and Memphis. Last year's sum of $1.45 million paid to UT Martin, UAB and Oregon was the lowest over the five-year span.

High six-figure payouts between major schools such as UT and lower-tier schools like the ones that dot the Vols' schedule this season are commonplace in college football. Because most major programs only seek out one major nonconference opponent per season, it continues to be a seller's market, and the prices for these games continue to skyrocket.

In 2009, Ohio State paid Navy $1.4 million to play at Ohio Stadium. Last year, Auburn paid Arkansas State $1 million to open the season at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Kent State will receive $1.2 million to play at Alabama on Saturday.

Football Championship Subdivision schools such as Montana do not command as high of a price tag as a lower-tier school in the Football Bowl Subdivision — such as Buffalo or MTSU — because an FBS school can only count one victory against an FCS school toward its minimum of six required to qualify for a postseason bowl game.

Speaking to the Knoxville Rotary Club last month, Dooley said UT's schedule would "always include a I-AA opponent," such as Montana. He has since backed off that stance in subsequent interviews.

This year's schedule, though, is a unique one, as UT will usually try to face at least one nonconference opponent that doesn't require a paycheck for its presence per season. Games like the 2012 Chick-fil-A Classic in Atlanta against North Carolina State and a 2013 trip to Oregon, which came to Neyland Stadium last season, are expected to lighten the load on UT's wallet in the near future.

Follow Andrew Gribble at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble.

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Comments » 19

SECProudUT writes:

FYI To all SPORTS WRITERS: The BIG PICTURE is that we play in Atlanta vs NC STATE, and no longer need a replacement game for North Carolina. Now also you can figure that into the financial calculations if it isn't to far over your heads.

BigVolinCarolina writes:

Still should have never cancelled the UNC series and replaced UNC with Buffalo. Ridiculous. And it looks even more foolish now that UNC fired Butch Davis. Of course, the stadium will be 3/4 full when we play Buffalo, too.

I'd rather have the recruiting exposure in North Carolina, a state where we used to hand-pick the players we wanted. Not anymore. Now it looks like we chickened out against an inferior football school.

Ringleader writes:

Stupid is as stupid does...........

Why would you ever swap North Carolina for State?

vut56#231073 writes:

And your point, Mr. Gribble? This is like reading the prices out of a Kroger insert. "This item is $950M; this one $500, etc." Further, he explains offsets, this year, so where are the facts that support the negative implication of the headline? I would bet the cost of detergent to wash the uniforms go up this year; an article, perhaps?

SECProudUT writes:

in response to Ringleader:

Stupid is as stupid does...........

Why would you ever swap North Carolina for State?

Because, if you read the article you would see where UNC would not reschedule the games. So when MH bought out UNC and replaced them this year with Buffalo we took up the open spot in the kick off classic for the missing game next season, it just happened to be NC State as the team we play, we didn't pick them.

tomkats3242 writes:

Will Mike Hamilton never go away. He has cost the university so much money since he got there and guess who the suckers are that have to pay it off. THE FANS. Why charge so much for tickes. Why do fans have to pay different amounts for different games? I guess so the university can pay off Hamilitons/Dickys costly mistakes. GOOG RIDENCE to both losers.

LJS1984 writes:

THANKS MIKE HAMILTON! I usually don't agree with PAUL FINEBAUM but yesterday I heard Finebaum say many of the same things I have said about Hamilton for years. Starting with Finebaum calling Hamilton classless (I've know this since having a personal run in with the guy a few years ago), then he called him incompetent (which was obvious the day he was awarded the AD job) and Finebaum continued to call him about everything else under the sun. Finebaum maybe a UT alum that is now a Bammer homer but can you blame him for being so ticked off with the leadership in Knoxville? I can't at all. The Men's program at Tennessee was a joke for way too long under Hamilton. Why did it take so long to get rid of him?

trubleoj#657755 writes:

What the ? Why would we pay UCLA when we played a home and away with them? 'splain please. Why would we pay Memphis when we play home and aways with them? What the heck was going on in that athletic department?

AllforTenn writes:

in response to LJS1984:

THANKS MIKE HAMILTON! I usually don't agree with PAUL FINEBAUM but yesterday I heard Finebaum say many of the same things I have said about Hamilton for years. Starting with Finebaum calling Hamilton classless (I've know this since having a personal run in with the guy a few years ago), then he called him incompetent (which was obvious the day he was awarded the AD job) and Finebaum continued to call him about everything else under the sun. Finebaum maybe a UT alum that is now a Bammer homer but can you blame him for being so ticked off with the leadership in Knoxville? I can't at all. The Men's program at Tennessee was a joke for way too long under Hamilton. Why did it take so long to get rid of him?

Finebaum is classless, among other shortcomings. Any one who considers his rants as informative is an Alabama fan through and through.

Packer_Park_Orange (Inactive) writes:

in response to BigVolinCarolina:

Still should have never cancelled the UNC series and replaced UNC with Buffalo. Ridiculous. And it looks even more foolish now that UNC fired Butch Davis. Of course, the stadium will be 3/4 full when we play Buffalo, too.

I'd rather have the recruiting exposure in North Carolina, a state where we used to hand-pick the players we wanted. Not anymore. Now it looks like we chickened out against an inferior football school.

You are right on the money. Tennessee routinely swooped up the top player in N.C....Haskell Stanback....Shuler...Glenn Ford I could have lived without (one play).

VOODOOley-2011 (Inactive) writes:

If the VOLS don't improve in the next year or so, we'll start getting those checks to show up somewhere else vs paying fluff-bags to come to Neyland Stadium.

Volunatic writes:

in response to BigVolinCarolina:

Still should have never cancelled the UNC series and replaced UNC with Buffalo. Ridiculous. And it looks even more foolish now that UNC fired Butch Davis. Of course, the stadium will be 3/4 full when we play Buffalo, too.

I'd rather have the recruiting exposure in North Carolina, a state where we used to hand-pick the players we wanted. Not anymore. Now it looks like we chickened out against an inferior football school.

The stadium will be mostly full when the Vols play Buffalo (except the student section), because the fans are going to be psyched about the Vols going into that game with a 3-0 record.

stevefrommemphis writes:

in response to SECProudUT:

Because, if you read the article you would see where UNC would not reschedule the games. So when MH bought out UNC and replaced them this year with Buffalo we took up the open spot in the kick off classic for the missing game next season, it just happened to be NC State as the team we play, we didn't pick them.

NC State and UNC were both on the schedule for 2012, until Hamilton's disgusting buyout of UNC. Right now, two non-conference games are showing up on web sites for 2012 (NC State and Troy), which means that there are still two openings available on next year's schedule so that UT can charge season ticket holders $40 - $50 for tickets to see a game vs. cupcake opponents. This website is updated with current info, even listing the recently announced game vs Chattanooga.
http://www.nationalchamps.net/NCAA/fu...

I'm glad that SHamilton is gone. For me, booting North Carolina off the schedule was the last straw.

Volunatic writes:

in response to trubleoj#657755:

What the ? Why would we pay UCLA when we played a home and away with them? 'splain please. Why would we pay Memphis when we play home and aways with them? What the heck was going on in that athletic department?

I believe UT received a payout when they played the away games in those series. It is an odd setup, though.

stevefrommemphis writes:

in response to LJS1984:

THANKS MIKE HAMILTON! I usually don't agree with PAUL FINEBAUM but yesterday I heard Finebaum say many of the same things I have said about Hamilton for years. Starting with Finebaum calling Hamilton classless (I've know this since having a personal run in with the guy a few years ago), then he called him incompetent (which was obvious the day he was awarded the AD job) and Finebaum continued to call him about everything else under the sun. Finebaum maybe a UT alum that is now a Bammer homer but can you blame him for being so ticked off with the leadership in Knoxville? I can't at all. The Men's program at Tennessee was a joke for way too long under Hamilton. Why did it take so long to get rid of him?

Are you willing to share any details regarding the personal run-in with Hamilton? Just curious. Probably has to do with Hamilton's insatiable greed.

Volunatic writes:

in response to stevefrommemphis:

Are you willing to share any details regarding the personal run-in with Hamilton? Just curious. Probably has to do with Hamilton's insatiable greed.

Mike "Hamiltons" (and "Franklins", "Grants", "Jeffersons", and "Washingtons") was greedy? Say it ain't so!

BigBadVol writes:

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ pretty much sums it up!

silentmajority writes:

You mean we (the fans) PAY visiting teams to play them? What utter stupidity! We need to find another line of work!

Volunatic writes:

in response to silentmajority:

You mean we (the fans) PAY visiting teams to play them? What utter stupidity! We need to find another line of work!

I agree. I think I'll send in my resume to be a "visiting team". It will be painful work, but the check would be sweet.

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