MISSOULA — Under eighth-year head coach Travis DeCuire, the University of Montana men's basketball team has had its fair share of high-level college basketball games against NCAA Division I opponents during the non-conference portion of their schedule since he took over in 2014-15.
While Montana's 2021-22 non-conference schedule was much more mid-major driven, the Grizzlies still took on two high-major conference opponents in Mississippi State of the SEC and Oregon of the Pac-12.
With high-major games come big paydays for mid-major programs like Montana. According to the game contracts, which were obtained by MTN Sports through a public records request, Oregon paid Montana $80,000 for their game on Nov. 29 while Mississippi State payed Montana $70,000 on Nov. 13. Mid-major Santa Clara of the WCC also paid UM $55,000 for their game on Dec. 19, totaling up to $205,000 between the three games.
While a lower number than past years, the three contracts show a more normal trend of guaranteed-game contracts as opposed to the 2020-21 COVID-19 impacted season, where a number of larger schools lowered payments to smaller schools as athletic departments around the country struggled during the pandemic with budgets affected by canceled sports and a lack of fans in attendance.
Montana saw this first-hand in 2020-21, when the Grizzlies got a total of $255,000 from four high-major games with Georgia, Arizona, Washington and USC. Arizona adjusted its payment to UM to $70,000 from its original agreed upon amount, while Washington, which had paid Montana $90,000 in 2019, paid just $50,000 last season.
USC paid Montana $45,000 in 2020, while Georgia's contract with UM was a $90,000 payout.
Though trending back to normal, the amount Oregon paid UM in 2021 was smaller than the last time these teams played, when UO paid UM $95,000 in 2019. By total comparison, Montana earned $355,000 in guaranteed-game payouts in 2019-20 in a season where they played Oregon, Washington, New Mexico and Stanford.
UM made $195,000 in 2018-19 when they played Creighton ($100,000) and Arizona ($95,000).
DeCuire's contract with UM, which is currently in the third year of a three-year deal he signed back in 2019, requires him to generate $86,000 in guaranteed-game money each season. Money after that $86,000 figure then goes back to DeCuire and his assistant coaches as incentive bonuses.
In 2021-22, UM paid Dickinson State $3,000 to play in Missoula for the season opener on Nov. 9. They also paid Yellowstone Christian College $2,500 for their game on Dec. 10.