Maryland, Navy likely to add 12th game beginning in 2006

College Football

April 30, 2005|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

Maryland and Navy plan to add a 12th regular-season game to their football schedules starting in 2006, officials from both schools said yesterday.

On Thursday, the NCAA Board of Directors voted to give schools the option to add an extra game starting next season, and despite some mild objections, most schools are expected to take advantage of a move that in some cases will mean millions in additional revenue.

"It's something we will be doing," said Larry Leckonby, a senior associate athletic director at Maryland and the athletic department's chief financial officer. "We have already discussed [adding a 12th game], because I think a lot of people saw this coming. We expect to have something wrapped up in the next 48 hours."

Leckonby estimated that an extra home game at Byrd Stadium would mean an additional $500,000 added to the athletic department's $43 million budget. At a school like Michigan, Penn State or Tennessee, where stadiums are regularly filled with more than 100,000 fans, it would mean millions of extra dollars.

"It's good from the perspective that if you have 11 games, you're never sure whether you're going to have five home games or six," Leckonby said.

Neither Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow nor football coach Ralph Friedgen was available to comment yesterday.

Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said the Midshipmen also have a potential deal in the works, and he estimated an extra home game could mean close to $800,000 in revenue when they factor in ticket sales, corporate sponsorships, merchandise and concession sales and alumni donations.

"I think it's a wonderful thing for us," Gladchuk said. "We've got a number of teams that we're talking to, and I suspect we'll get back to studying it further on Monday."

Said Navy coach Paul Johnson: "I think we'll be smart about it. I would think we'd want to have an extra home game. I wouldn't want us playing a money game on the road."

Interestingly, officials from the Atlantic Coast Conference were the only representatives not in favor of adding a 12th game when the proposal came before the Division I Management Council recently, arguing that the burden on student-athletes was already heavy enough.

Gladchuk called that position a "weak argument."

"It's a non-issue," he said. "I thought the ACC's position was a little bizarre, to be honest. When you start talking about basketball or baseball, then you have a point, but not football, where you miss very little class time."

There are additional issues that come into play with a 12th game, namely that six wins may no longer be good enough to make a team bowl-eligible. The board of directors recommended that seven victories would be preferable, but a final decision has not been made.

Teams will, however, be able to count wins over Division I-AA teams each season, something they could only do once every four years under the previous rule.

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