Bronco Beat

Boise State's Fiesta Bowl payout increases by $900,000

Boise State and the Mountain West have resolved a difference of interpretation in the Broncos’ favor — a decision that pushed more than $900,000 to the Broncos, university officials say.

The Idaho Statesman published a breakdown of Boise State’s potential payout from a New Year’s Six bowl on Dec. 5, the day before the Mountain West championship game. That story concluded that the school would receive $4.167 million.

On Dec. 6, the Mountain West provided a different interpretation of the payout calculation that left Boise State with $3.25 million.

The difference: $917,000.

On Dec. 7, at Boise State’s viewing party for its Fiesta Bowl selection, I asked President Bob Kustra about the different interpretations. He said he would look into it.

Last night, the school provided an answer. Boise State will receive the larger payout.

The Mountain West hasn’t commented yet.

Here’s how the dispute happened:

— As part of its contract to remain in the Mountain West and renege on a deal to join the Big East/American conference, Boise State negotiated a payout structure for major bowl berths that applies to all conference members. The contract says that a team qualifying for a BCS-type bowl would receive 50 percent of any distribution to the conference for a bowl appearance and the other 50 percent would go into the conference pool. It also says that “any expense payments made by the BCS on account of a team’s BCS bowl appearance shall be paid to that appearing team.” The contract uses “BCS” but also mentions that it applies to the new system, which didn’t have a name at the time.

— The Mountain West says the Group of Five conferences agreed with the College Football Playoff to receive a lump sum of $6 million for the appearance of its highest-rated champion. That money goes to the participating conference. Boise State’s share would be 54.167 percent — or $3.25 million. The extra 4.167 percent is because Boise State gets 1/12th of the half that goes into the conference pool.

— However, last summer, while making the rounds of media days — including the Mountain West’s — the CFP described a slightly different payout structure. That structure also is spelled out on the CFP website. Schools participating in the Fiesta, Cotton and Peach bowls when they aren’t playoff semifinals receive $4 million for the appearance and $2 million for expenses.

— Using the breakdown of the $6 million into two payments, Boise State is entitled to 54.167 percent of the $4 million — or $2.167 million. It also is entitled to all of the expense money — or $2 million.

So Boise State will receive $4.167 million — $1.94 million worth of tickets and $2.227 million in cash. If the school spends about $1.75 million on the trip, its maximum profit is about $2.4 million.

Boise State still had $480,000 worth of tickets to sell as of Monday. If those don’t sell, the school’s potential profit would drop below $2 million. But the new interpretation ensures that the school will make a sizable profit regardless — and by selling far fewer tickets than the first two Fiesta Bowl appearances.

For the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, Boise State received $4.3 million and netted $2.8 million. The school sold nearly all of its 17,500 tickets. Expenses were about $1.5 million, including coach bonuses.

For the 2010 Fiesta Bowl, Boise State received $3 million and netted $1.2 million. Expenses were about $1.8 million, including coach bonuses. The school sold nearly all of its 19,000 tickets.

This year, Boise State only had 12,500 tickets to sell. The CFP reduced the requirements this year because schools were having trouble using all of their tickets.

The Mountain West’s other 11 members will receive $166,666.66 each from Boise State’s Fiesta Bowl appearance. (Technically, Boise State’s payout above is $4,166,666.66. I rounded to $4.167 million.)


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