The Idaho State football team is set to bring in nearly $1 million from its nonconference schedule this season.
The Bengals’ “money games” Sept. 14 at Utah ($550,000) and Nov. 16 at BYU ($475,000) combine to pay ISU $1,025,000. ISU is also paying Western Colorado $60,000 for traveling to Pocatello for the Bengals’ Sept. 5 home opener, dropping ISU’s total money game revenue to $965,000.
ISU’s other nonconference game, Sept. 21 at Northern Iowa, does not include a game check for either school. The programs agreed to a home-and-home contract that will see UNI play at Holt Arena in 2020.
While playing the aforementioned Utah teams results in a hefty payday for Idaho State, the school’s first-year athletic director, Pauline Thiros, said the Utes and Cougars are not ideal opponents for ISU’s football team. She also noted the date of the BYU game, which falls one week before ISU’s season finale at Big Sky Conference rival Weber State.
Thiros did not make this season’s schedule, as it was finalized before she was hired as ISU’s athletic director.
“These are great games from the standpoint of travel and revenue, but very tough in terms of the competitive level and point in the season,” Thiros told the Journal.
“Football scheduling is definitely a puzzle, and we are working together as a coaching and administrative staff to develop a strategic approach. We want to build schedules that support recruiting, alumni engagement, and which put us in position to make, host and win playoff games.
“Revenue remains an important consideration, but it is one of many.”
Thiros also confirmed several other future nonconference opponents.
Along with hosting Northern Iowa next season, ISU plays at New Mexico and at Fresno State in 2020. ISU hosts North Dakota while traveling to Nevada and BYU in 2021, then plays at San Diego State in 2022 and 2023, before heading to North Dakota in 2024.
STATE BOARD APPROVES 5-YEAR CONTRACT FOR LOONEY
First-year ISU men’s basketball coach Ryan Looney was approved for a five-year contract by the State Board of Education at a board meeting in June. Any contract longer than three years requires State Board approval.
Looney will earn an annual base salary of $115,000, but can make up to $245,000 if he achieves all of his bonuses.
One of Looney’s bonuses is more lucrative for him than it has been for his ISU predecessors.
Looney will earn an extra $5,000 if his team achieves a perfect Academic Progress Rate (APR) score of 1,000. The Journal previously reported that Looney could earn a maximum of $2,500 for a perfect APR score.
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“We increased, by 100%, the bonus structure historically in place for high APR achievement to ensure that it properly prioritized academic performance,” ISU Athletic Director Pauline Thiros told the Journal. “We want to demonstrate that getting a perfect APR score is of equal importance to a first-round NCAA Tournament win or going deep in the NIT. We have talked a lot about our educational mission and our commitment to academic excellence. It is important to me that our actions match our words.”
Included in the meeting agenda from the June State Board meeting is a table that charts salaries of head men’s basketball coaches around the Big Sky Conference. Looney’s base salary is the lowest, followed by Eastern Washington’s Shantay Legans at $130,000, according to the table in the board meeting agenda. Weber State coach Randy Rahe has the highest base salary among Big Sky men’s basketball coaches at over $200,000, the chart says.