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MAC commissioner shocked at timing of Big Ten's decision to drop non-conference foes

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Mid-American Conference commissioner Jon Steinbrecher isn’t surprised by much these days, but he was shocked when the Big Ten announced Thursday it was …
Mid-American Conference commissioner Jon Steinbrecher isn’t surprised by much these days, but he was shocked when the Big Ten announced Thursday it was canceling its nonconference athletic schedule for the fall.
The coronavirus-motivated move by Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren nixes 11 football games from the MAC schedule, handing teams in the conference a loss of more than $10 million, including $2.15 million for Central Michigan, which was set to play — and be paid by — Nebraska and Northwestern. Toledo was set to play Michigan State for $1.2 million and Ball State was getting $975,000 from Michigan.
The MAC plans to move forward as scheduled by competing in as many nonconference games as possible. What leaves Steinbrecher scratching his head, however, is the timeline of the Big Ten’s choice that puts his member schools further in the hole.
[ Mid-major colleges could be crippled by football cancellations; so what do contracts say?]
„Our interest was in playing a full schedule,“ Steinbrecher said. „We know everybody is examining all sorts of things, but I did not expect this decision quite so soon.“
Teams in the Group of Five — FBS-level teams from the AAC, C-USA, MAC, Mountain West and Sun Belt conferences — depend on game guarantees from Power Five conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC) to keep their athletic departments from crumbling, even though the matchups typically result in a loss. In the 2018-19 fiscal year, CMU’s $1.15 million in football guarantees was 33.8% of the team’s revenue, while ticket sales were just 16.9%.
„They are very valuable,“ Steinbrecher said. „We’ll now have to step back and contemplate what that means for us.“
[ Michigan MAC athletic programs staring at financial crisis after pandemic saps cash flow]
Steinbrecher wouldn’t elaborate whether he thought the upcoming season will take place, but he wants people to know he’s „mindful of what’s going on“ and will be „prepared to react“ as necessary.

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