In August 2017, days before UMass was scheduled to open their fifth season as a full FBS member, the Minutemen announced a future non-conference game for the 2020 schedule. They would visit Auburn on Nov. 14, 2020, their first-ever trip to Auburn and first-ever game against the Tigers. The trip would net one of the lowest-budget FBS programs a whopping $1.9 million, tying the record payout for a guarantee game between FBS teams (in which there weren’t special circumstances).
Three years later, UMass lost that game when the SEC announced the cancellation of all non-conference games for the 2020 season. As the two schools continue sorting out the contractual ramifications of the SEC’s decision, one thing is clear: UMass isn’t getting $1.9 million from Auburn in November and will look to another southern opponent to recoup revenue in hopes of offsetting a $5-million budget shortfall for the athletics department.
In late September, UMass reversed an August decision in which they announced the cancellation of the 2020 season. Instead of wiping out the season or moving it to the spring, the Minutemen will play this fall, though they have only one schedule game, a mid-October trip to Georgia Southern. And the Eagles will pay UMass a whopping $60,000.
No, I didn’t miss a zero. Five figures. To play a road FBS game. In 2020.
We threw college football normalcy out the window months ago as the sport navigates an unprecedented crisis but a five-figure payout for a road FBS game is a staggeringly low sum. The amount will cover “roughly half” of UMass’ travel expenses, according to Mass Live, for a game that fills an opening for Georgia Southern after their game against App State was postponed due to a COVID outbreak within the Mountaineers’ program.