On a Saturday afternoon in September, excited college football fans from around the country pile into stadiums to cheer their team. While many college football games remain competitive, the occurrence of “money games” has led to many lopsided contest and a sense of shame in the game of college football.
On September 7, the University of Memphis hosted Southern University in what what was predicted to be a lopsided affair. The result was a 55-24 loss for the Jaguars. While the team was crushed by the AAC powerhouse, they received $400,000 for the game according to the Baton Rouge Advocate.
When asked his opinion on HBCUs and money games, Senior, mechanical engineering Major, Jonathan Banks stated, “I feel like money games are beneficial for the team as the money they make can be used to help provide the necessary resources that the team needs. Oftentimes, people have this expectation that because we are playing a money game we are supposed to lose, however I feel like if we can win more of these games then that would open up the opportunity for bigger name universities as well as bigger payouts.”
The concept of a money game occurs when a much larger FBS school plays against a smaller FCS school. When these schools play each other, an exchange takes place. The larger school pays the smaller school large sums of money to play them. In exchange, the smaller school is usually defeated due their programs being “inferior” on paper.
Around the country, college football players, coaches, executives, and fans have contrasting views on whether or not money games should be played, with parties involved taking different views for various various reasons.
One of the most prevalent reasons why money games are played is in the phrase itself; MONEY. While the smaller school is almost always is defeated, they will in turn receive over upwards of $100,000.
According to the Huffington Post, in 2016, Prairie View lost toTexas A&M by a score of 67-0, and were paid the six figure sum of $450,000. As demoralizing as the loss was for the smaller HBCU, the money was much needed by Prairie View’s athletic program, whose university endowment of 82 million dollars dwarfs that of Texas A&M, which is 13 billion dollars.
When asked about the significance of money games, Junior nursing major Nysha Orebreaux stated, “Black colleges are highly underfunded. While these games have a significant negative impact on both teams involved, they also serve as ways for underfunded schools to get money.”
While these pay days are beneficial to smaller colleges, they sometimes come at a greater expense than just a humiliating loss.
In 2015, Southern University Wide Receiver Devon Gales was paralized when he was hit on a kickoff against SEC powerhouse Georgia. The argument can be made that Southern University had no business playing Georgia. Being a school with superior resources, they simply overpowered and outmatched the smaller FCS school.
Senior history major Brandon Butler stated, “Under the current business model, I think that the revenue generated from playing money games is vital for many HBCU athletic programs, so I understand why they play them. On the other hand, I think that since most football teams are predominantly black, if the top athletes choose to go to HBCUs in the first place, there wouldn’t be a need for a money game, because the money follows the talent.”
While it is a polarizing subject, it can not be denied that the subject of money games will continue to be ingrained in college football.