The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday December 8th

UNC loses non-conference opponent Minnesota in 2013, 2014

The University of Minnesota formally announced Tuesday its cancellation of a 2013-14 two-game football series with UNC.

News of the move was broken Monday by the site Gophers Illustrated. The cancellation reintroduces football schedule uncertainty to a UNC athletic department that just a year ago was straightening out the ramifications of a previous cancellation.

The two schools had agreed to play each other in 2009. But in the wake of new hirings, Minnesota chose to reconsider. The penalty for Minnesota’s cancellation is an $800,000 payout to UNC.

“That was a decision made by our football coach in consultation with our athletic director,” said Garry Bowman, the director of athletic communications for Minnesota.

The Gophers’ head coach, Jerry Kill, is 4-2 in his second season after going 3-9 last year. Norwood Teague, the school’s athletic director, was hired in April.

“Jerry said that in order to build a program in the Big 10 (Conference) at this level, that your kids gotta have confidence,” Teague said Tuesday in a press conference announcing the decision. “And you don’t want to take on a BCS opponent in your first two or three years out of conference.”

UNC must now scramble to find new nonconference opponents for the next two years. The last time another school dropped the Tar Heels was when the University of Tennessee paid $750,000 in 2010 to drop out of a 2011-12 series.

UNC lucked out and replaced the Volunteers with the University of Louisville when the University of Georgia dropped a series with the Cardinals.

The Tar Heels’ only locked-in nonconference opponents for next season are the University of South Carolina, East Carolina University and Old Dominion University. The Pirates are the only set-in-stone the season after that.

Bubba Cunningham, UNC’s athletic director, said he was unhappy to hear a few months ago that Minnesota was considering dropping the series.

“I thought it was a good series and I wanted to play,” he said. “I was disappointed to get a phone call that they didn’t want to play.”

Big-dollar replacements

With Minnesota’s buyout in hand, the cancellation raises the possibility that UNC might try to pay for a one-and-done seventh home game to last paragraph seventh home game in 2013 or 2014.

One-and-done games, unlike home-and-home series, in which schools pay one another equal sums for games on both campuses, are more expensive because opposing teams must be compensated for travel expenses and lost home-game revenue.

Because home games usually net between $1.5 million and $1.7 million for UNC, the school often will pay to schedule a nonconference opponent for one more match in Kenan Stadium.

The University of Idaho filled in as a seventh home game this year and received a UNC-record $800,000 payout. Cunningham said it could cost UNC between $700,000 and $1 million to bring in another Division-1 school.

“We’ll give them Minnesota’s money,” he said.

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