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Report: ASU paid Fresno State $1.1 million for 29-0 loss

Southern Utah received $475,000 for ASU's opening night victory

ASU redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Clayton Smith (3) attempt to block a field goal at Mountain America Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2023, in Tempe.

ASU football’s 29-0 loss to Fresno State on Sept. 16 did not just cost the team a victory – it also cost the University $1.1 million, according to the game contract signed by the two schools. 

The contract was acquired from ASU by the State Press and was signed by ASU Vice President for University Athletics Ray Anderson, as well as then Fresno State Director of Athletics Jim Bartko and now retired Fresno State Chief Financial Officer Clint Moffitt in February 2016. 

The $1.1 million Fresno State earned for its 29-0 shutout of ASU in Tempe amounts to nearly $38,000 per point scored for the Bulldogs. 

Non-conference games between well-funded Power Five teams and smaller Group of Five programs, sometimes called guarantee games or "buy" games, are common in college football and basketball. They are often mutually beneficial: providing an "easy" game for big-time schools who hope to pay off the fixed fee in ticket sales in exchange for a payoff to the smaller school.

ESPN reports 46,723 and 47,773 in attendance, respectively, for the Fresno State and Southern Utah matchups in Tempe. ASU’s opening game against Southern Utah, the team’s only win to date, was also a guarantee game that cost ASU $475,000.

This is the second non-conference game against a Group of Five team ASU has lost in the last two seasons. ASU dropped 30-21 to Eastern Michigan of the Mid-American Conference at home last season, prompting the dismissal of former head coach Herm Edwards. 

The sum ASU owed Southern Utah may be related to the two schools’ decision to finish the game well after midnight following a haboob-induced lightning delay that began at halftime and extended over two and a half hours.

The contract between ASU and Southern Utah does not have a weather clause, but the contract’s "Force Majeure Cancellation" clause says that when an "Act of God" occurs, the parties may mutually agree to cancel the event. 

"Any financial costs of obligations incurred by either party relating to this Agreement prior to such cancellation shall be borne by such party and, if jointly incurred, shall be borne equally by the parties," the contract reads.

Rain delays have complicated past game agreements between Power Five and non-power conference teams. After a game between Florida and Idaho was canceled after exactly one play in August 2014 due to a lightning delay, Florida agreed to pay the $975,000 stipulated in the contract. 

Conversely, after Hurricane Irma forced the cancellation of a September 2017 matchup between Arkansas State and Miami (Florida), Arkansas State sued seeking the $650,000 named in the contract, arguing that Miami did not reschedule the game when they could have. The two schools ultimately settled in court.

It is unclear whether ASU’s game against Southern Utah would have been called a 21-7 ASU victory were the teams unable to resume or reschedule the second half. 

ASU begins the 2024 football season at home against Wyoming, which is currently tied with Fresno State for second in the Mountain West Conference.

Edited by Walker Smith, Shane Brennan and Grace Copperthite.

Reach the reporter at and follow @_alexwakefield on X. 

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