Nebraska agrees to pay Akron $650,000 for canceled game
LINCOLN — The first Nebraska football game in history canceled by thunderstorms turned into a rain check — seven years from now — for the team the Huskers were scheduled to play.
In return, NU athletic director Bill Moos said Monday evening, Nebraska will get a “pretty good bargain” financially when the Huskers host Akron on Sept. 6, 2025 and pay the Zips $1.45 million for that game. Nebraska also agreed to pay Akron $650,000 of the $1.17 million it would have owed the Zips had the two teams played their Sept.1 game this season.
Moos, said on his monthly Husker Sports Network radio show that the payout for canceled 2018 game and the payout for 2025 game were connected in negotiations with Akron athletic director Larry Williams.
The $650,000 “more than covered” Akron’s expenses, Moos said, for traveling to NU for a Sept. 1 game thunderstorms interrupted and ultimately canceled. The $1.45 million payout for 2025 is a better deal than the price tag might suggest.
“That can raise some eyebrows, but really, when you compare it to what a lot of schools are paying out that far for a one-time game, it’s pretty good bargain,” Moos said.
A quick glance at various media reports on the amounts paid out by other top football programs indicates Moos is correct. Akron is getting $1.8 million from Ohio State, for example, to play at Ohio Stadium in 2021.
LSU will pay Army $1.65 million for a 2023 game and South Alabama $1.65 million for a 2024 game. Alabama will pay Southern Mississippi $1.9 million for 2021 game, Utah State $1.91 million for a 2022 game and Western Kentucky $1.9 million for a 2023 game. This year alone Alabama paid $1.85 million to Southern Mississippi for a 2018 game. Michigan State will pay Western Michigan $1.5 million in 2022 and 2025 – that’s two games – while Ohio State will pay $1.8 each to Buffalo in 2020, Akron in 2021 and Toledo in 2022.
Moos said Williams still wanted Akron to have a chance to play at Memorial Stadium.
“Having heard that, it stimulated my thought of hey maybe we should schedule one down the road whenever we both have the open date and factor that into whatever agreement we come to,” Moos said.
In early September, after the cancellation, Moos said he was sensitive to how schools like Akron meet their football budgets. He also wanted to keep NU’s reputation among mid-major programs strong, since the Huskers plan to schedule at least two per season.
Nebraska eventually chose in 2018 to pay FCS foe Bethune-Cookman $800,000 as its 2018 makeup opponent instead of rescheduling with Akron. The Zips, meanwhile, scheduled and lost a game to South Carolina on Dec. 1, receiving a $1.3 million payout.
“They came out pretty good,” Moos said Monday night of the Zips, which ultimately got $1.95 million to play one game.
NU’s $1.45 million payout for the 2025 game will be, for now, one of the largest in Husker history; Nebraska paid Arkansas State $1.65 million in 2017.
Also in 2017, NU paid Northern Illinois $820,000 to play in Lincoln after shelling out $1.027 million to cancel a game with NIU it had originally intended play in Chicago.
The 2025 game against Akron will serve as Nebraska’s home opener. The Huskers start the season on the road at Illinois. NU also has a road game at Cincinnati scheduled for the nonconference portion of the 2025 slate. Nebraska needs to add one more game to have a full non-conference schedule.
Moos said Nebraska and Akron came out of the negotiations with “mutual respect.”
“At the end of the day we both felt good about it,” he said. “Time to move on.”