The Northern Illinois football team will receive $1.5 million for its 2021 game at Michigan, according to the contract the Daily Chronicle received Thursday via a FOIA request.
The game replaced Wake Forest on the schedule. That game – originally scheduled for 2013 – now is slated for Sept. 19, 2026, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Michigan will pay NIU in four annual installments of $375,000, the first to be made no later than March 31.
It’s the second big payday in as many years for the Huskies, who played this past season at Florida State. The late add to their schedule netted them $1.6 million.
“Obviously, anytime you can do those types of games that financially benefit the university and the athletic department, that’s the intention,” NIU executive associate athletic director John Cheney said. “And where it’s similar to the Florida State deal, where we get partial payments over several years, it gives us more flexibility given the current budget constraints in the state of Illinois. It was appealing to us, so we saw if they were interested in that. And they were, so we made that work.”
The Huskies announced the game Jan. 12. It will be played Sept. 18, 2021.
NIU will receive 400 complimentary tickets from Michigan and will have the option to purchase up to 3,600 more – although NIU can’t return more than 250 unsold tickets to Michigan by July 15, 2021, or 100 by Aug. 4, 2021.
The original Wake Forest contract was agreed to Oct. 20, 2006, for a game Sept. 13, 2014. On Sept. 16, 2013, the schools agreed to reschedule the game for 2021.
The latest addendum to the contract, pushing the game to 2026, was dated July 6, 2018.
Cheney said even with all the delays, neither school wants to cancel the game.
“We feel it’s something they get something out of – it’s doubtful in their case (that they would cancel) ’cause they’d have to pay more for a home game,” Cheney said. “And for us it’s still a good competitive game. So as long as we’re flexible about it, there’s no need to cancel it.”
NIU made its lone appearance in Michigan Stadium – aka “The Big House” – in 2005, resulting in a 33-17 win for the Wolverines.
“Michigan: excellent, excellent program,” NIU athletic director Sean Frazier said in an interview with the Chronicle last month. “Tradition-based. We’ve played them before. This makes sense. It’s the right fit for us from a competition standpoint.
“It’s not odd that we play a powerhouse in the Big Ten, and this gives us an opportunity to do that, and we really appreciate their patronage of us relative to helping us with some of our guarantee components and he’s done a great job. That’s the kind of game our kids want to play.”