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For UMaine, ‘guarantee games’ a lucrative but ‘necessary evil’ — University of Maine Black Bear Sports — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine

For UMaine, ‘guarantee games’ a lucrative but ‘necessary evil’ — University of Maine Black Bear Sports — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine

By Ernie Clark, BDN Employees •
October eight, 2018 1:00 am

ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine athletic division will obtain greater than $1.Three million through the 2018-2019 educational yr for enjoying in so-called assure video games for soccer and males’s basketball.

The UMaine soccer group already has performed two such contests, which on the NCAA Division I degree sometimes contain main convention faculties paying mid-major opponents look charges to play street video games at their websites.

The Black Bears acquired $300,00Zero to play at Western Kentucky University of Convention USA on Sept. eight and $400,00Zero to play at Central Michigan of the Mid-American Convention on Sept. 22.

UMaine, a Soccer Championship Subdivision member, cut up these video games towards Soccer Bowl Subdivision foes, scoring a come-from-behind 31-28 victory over Western Kentucky and falling at Central Michigan 17-5.

The college is about to obtain one other $620,00Zero in ensures this winter for non-conference males’s basketball video games.

These video games embrace journeys to the University of Denver ($75,00Zero), the University of Utah ($90,00Zero), the University of San Francisco ($85,00Zero), Quinnipiac ($25,00Zero), Duquesne ($85,00Zero) and Rutgers ($85,00Zero).

UMaine additionally will obtain $175,00Zero for its participation within the Wolfpack Basic event, which includes street video games at North Carolina State, North Texas and Saint Peter’s, and a Dec. eight recreation towards Princeton on the Cross Insurance coverage Middle in Bangor — one of solely 4 non-conference residence video games for the Black Bears.

“It’s one of those things that’s almost become a necessary evil,” UMaine athletic director Ken Ralph stated lately.

Ralph turned UMaine’s athletic director final month after spending the earlier 11 years at Colorado School. He sees correlations between the use of assure video games to generate income for the athletic division with what number of analysis tasks across the college’s educational departments are sponsored.

“Most of the research is done through getting grant proposals and grant funding, so it’s not just necessarily isolated to just athletics for going out and getting external funding to be able to support operations within the enterprise,” he stated.

Ralph hopes to raised join athletics to teachers at UMaine to show the similarities and challenges every faces.

“We go through some of the same trials and tribulations here in terms of establishing an expense budget, and maybe that will create a better connection.”

Monetary issues are why assure video games have grow to be routine for many Division I athletic packages. Faculties from the most important conferences attempt to fill out their residence schedules to maximise income whereas mid-major packages search to stability their budgets.

“Big programs like an Alabama or Texas or an Ohio State have larger revenue streams where their ticket sales, their annual giving, their licensing, and their television money can drive all of their revenue-generating targets,” Ralph stated.

“For mid-majors it doesn’t work that way, so you look at all of your potential revenue streams and create a revenue budget to meet your target. One of the ways we reach our target at a mid-major school is to take guarantee games.”

UMaine has an athletics price range of roughly $19 million, but the division should bridge the hole between state-appropriated funds and bills.

“Those guarantee games matter significantly. I don’t think we’d be able to give our students the same quality of experience without them.”

UMaine is following a nationwide development in enjoying non-conference street video games for a paycheck.

Greater than $175 million shall be paid out for NCAA Division I soccer video games this season, many involving Soccer Championship Subdivision groups touring to Soccer Bowl Subdivision foes, in response to USA Immediately. Others contain lower-tier Soccer Bowl Subdivision groups visiting faculties from the so-called Energy 5 leagues— the Atlantic Coast, Huge Ten, Massive 12, Pac 12 and Southeastern conferences.

Take Western Kentucky of Convention USA, the varsity that paid UMaine $300,00Zero to play at its stadium. The Hilltoppers acquired $1.35 million to play at Wisconsin of the Huge 10 on Sept. 1 and took residence $400,00Zero for a go to to Louisville of the Atlantic Coast Convention on Sept. 15.

Mid-America Convention member Central Michigan, which paid UMaine $400,00Zero for its Sept. 22 recreation, obtained $1.15 million to play on the University of Kentucky of the Southeastern Convention on Sept. 1.

Assure video games are also prevalent all through Division I males’s basketball.

UMaine performed six assure video games through the 2017-2018 season (at Boston School, Texas Tech, Georgetown, St. Joseph’s of Pennsylvania, Fordham and Massachusetts) and 4 through the 2015-2016 marketing campaign (at Virginia Tech, Windfall, Buffalo and Duke).

“I think because of our geographic isolation these guarantee games mean more because you just can’t get on a bus, go play somebody and come right home,” Ralph stated.

Assure video games towards bigger packages additionally permit gamers to check themselves towards top-level opponents and sometimes offers faculties like UMaine recruiting publicity in main markets.

“When [men’s basketball coach Richard] Barron can say, ‘Look, we’re playing in the Pac-12, we’re playing in the Big 10,’ that’s really enticing to recruits,” Ralph stated. “It’s a really, really big deal, and the fact we can pick up a few bucks while doing it is even better.”

Ralph identified that the University of Utah wouldn’t make the journey to Maine, so a $90,00Zero verify and the recruiting increase are a good commerce.

UMaine additionally performs assure video games in different sports activities similar to ladies’s basketball and baseball, but usually these ensures largely cowl journey and lodging because the Black Bears face national-level competitors.

Ralph has earlier expertise with assure video games from his time at Colorado School. That faculty provides what he referred to as “pretty generous guarantees” to fill out its Division I hockey schedule, which this yr consists of residence non-conference collection towards New Hampshire and Vermont and a single recreation towards Alabama-Huntsville.

Ralph defined that Colorado School additionally has paid ensures to draw opponents to the Colorado Springs campus for males’s lacrosse, a Division III sport on the faculty.

“It’s mostly to defray the cost of travel for teams to come out,” Ralph stated. “Any team that plays at Colorado College from Division III has to fly and most of those schools are not budgeted to take any flights at all.”

With a lot assure cash obtainable from soccer and males’s basketball, it’s unlikely the development will change for mid-major packages corresponding to UMaine.

One dynamic Ralph plans to review as he turns into extra accustomed to his new faculty is whether or not there’s any level of diminishing returns on the subject of assure video games.

“Students want to push themselves against the best possible competition and these guarantee games give them a chance to do that,” Ralph stated. “But at what point have you overdone it?”

The UMaine soccer staff is Three-17 all time towards Soccer Bowl Subdivision competitors, with wins at Mississippi State in 2007 and at Massachusetts in 2013 previous final month’s triumph at Western Kentucky.

UMaine will play two extra Soccer Bowl Subdivision foes in 2019, a $300,00Zero assure recreation at Liberty University and a $325,00Zero payday at Georgia Southern.

Choices might embrace persevering with the current scheduling of two Soccer Bowl Subdivision video games yearly from non-power conferences or enjoying only one foe from a energy convention annually for a probably greater singular assure.

Most different members of Maine’s soccer convention, the Colonial Athletic Affiliation, performed only one assure recreation this fall, with major-conference opponents, together with North Carolina State, Air Drive, Connecticut, Wake Forest, South Florida, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Colorado and Temple

Villanova and UMaine have been the one CAA groups to defeat a major-conference foe this fall, with Villanova edging Temple of the American Athletic Convention 19-17 on Sept. 1.

“Do you take one game against an FBS school and take a big payday or do you take a couple of games against lower-tier FBS schools that you might have a chance to beat like Western Kentucky and give the kids this remarkable experience and still pick up a paycheck,” Ralph stated. “It’s a good philosophical question.”

That query additionally extends to males’s basketball, the place UMaine is Zero-10 in assure video games during the last two years with a 19.6-point common margin of defeat and only one loss by single digits — a 67-66 extra time setback at Fordham final Dec. 2.

Finally, there’s a backside line to be thought-about that transcends wins and losses.

“So do you say maybe we can take a couple of those guarantee games off the schedule if we’re making more money in ticket revenue and I’m meeting my revenue targets?” Ralph stated. “Perhaps sponsorships go up, perhaps donations go up, these are methods of doing it. It additionally could be finished by allocations from the school itself.

“But if you’re not meeting your revenue goals you have to look at these guarantee games.”

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