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Cost of doing non-SEC business

The University of Kentucky athletics department will pay out more than $1 million in guaranteed compensation to the three non-conference opponents that will travel to Commonwealth Stadium during the 2012 football season, The Cats' Pause has learned.

Following a trend of rising fees to schedule non-conference football games, Kentucky's total cost of facing Kent State, Western Kentucky and Samford will be $1.225 million, according to contract obtain by open records request. UK will recoup some of those expenses by collecting $300,000 from Louisville as the visiting team in the Sept. 2 opener at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

The challenge in scheduling non-conference foes has grown in recent years. There are operating costs all major Division I-A football programs face when scheduling non-conference opponents.

“It's a simple matter of supply and demand,” UK football spokesperson Tony Neely said. “With people in the SEC and similar conferences looking for at least seven home games against five away games obviously that creates an imbalance.

“When you're Kentucky, trying to have seven home games and you have a home and away series in the non-conference, which we do with Louisville, means you have to entice either two or three teams to come to Commonwealth Stadium each year in order to reach seven (home) games.”

The most expensive opponent is Western Kentucky, which will receive a $500,000 guarantee in the third game of a four-game contract that also features two games at LP Field. Under the terms of the contract the Hilltoppers will receive 5,500 game tickets to be sold for the Sept. 15 contest at Commonwealth Stadium, as well as 1,000 complimentary tickets and 60 sideline passes. Kentucky will receive 40 percent of the revenue split for the 2013 game at LP Field in Nashville, the final contest of the four-year contract between the schools.

Kentucky will pay Kent State a guarantee of $400,000 for the Cats' Sept. 8 home opener. The Golden Flashes will receive 2,500 tickets to be sold, 350 complimentary tickets and 40 sideline passes. Samford University will receive a $325,000 guarantee for traveling to Lexington on Nov. 17, as well as 2,000 tickets to be sold, 400 complimentary tickets and 40 sideline passes.

Some of the costs Kentucky will incur will be offset by its trip to Louisville, which must provide 5,500 tickets to Kentucky for the season opener, including 400 complimentary tickets. Louisville will supply Kentucky with 60 sideline passes for the game. The same terms and conditions apply to Kentucky when it hosts Louisville in 2013 and 2015.

The current contract between Kentucky and Louisville runs through the 2016 season, with the Cats hosting in 2011, 2013 and 2015 and the Cardinals in 2012, 2014 and 2016. The remaining games on the six-year contract are tentatively scheduled for Sept. 14, 2013; August 30, 2014; Sept. 12, 2015 and Sept. 3, 2016. There is a $500,000 fee per game should either school attempt to get out of the contract before its completion.

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