A down year in the Big Ten Conference will likely cause the University of Minnesota to receive less money from football bowl revenues despite the team's first postseason appearance since 2009.
On Sunday, the Gophers accepted an invitation to the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas. They had lobbied to get into the bowl, which will be played Dec. 28 at Reliant Stadium in Houston.
But they’ll only receive a small fraction of the $1.7 million the Big Ten receives for the University’s bowl appearance.
Each year the Big Ten receives a payout from bowls in which its teams compete, which it distributes evenly to eligible schools.
The conference has seven bowl-eligible schools in 2012, three fewer than last year. Only Wisconsin made a Bowl Championship Series game this season, which generates much more revenue than other bowls because of television deals and ticket sales.
Last year, Michigan and Wisconsin competed in BCS games.
The conference will make less bowl money than it did in 2011 because only one team is playing in a BCS game, according to Scott Chipman, the Big Ten’s assistant commissioner for communications.
Ohio State and Penn State are ineligible for bowl games because of NCAA violations. Losing the Buckeyes is especially costly because they would have likely made a BCS game with their 12-0 record.
But Ohio State will still draw from the conference’s revenue pool from bowl games. Penn State will have its portion donated to charity as part of the NCAA sanctions resulting from the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal.
Nebraska, the newest member playing in the conference, does not receive a full share yet.
Minnesota will receive $1.5 million from the Big Ten’s bowl revenues to cover bowl game expenses such as hotel, transportation, food and travel, athletics spokesman Garry Bowman said.
The Gophers were required to buy 12,000 tickets for the game, Bowman said. If they don’t sell all of them, the Big Ten will reimburse them using the money it receives from bowl games.
When Minnesota played in the Insight Bowl against Iowa State in 2009, the Gophers failed to sell 8,685 tickets, which cost the Big Ten $476,190.
The conference absorbed those tickets, resold them and distributed the cost to teams throughout the conference.
Purdue, which contended with Minnesota for a spot in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, will instead play in a lesser-paying bowl, the Heart of Dallas Bowl, on Jan. 1.
The Boilermakers had to purchase 6,000 tickets for their game, according to Kyle Waters, Purdue’s general manager of ticket sales and service.
Waters said the school sent an email to everyone in its “database” to inform people the team was playing in the game.
Purdue’s 30,000 season-ticket holders have until Wednesday to use their priority status to buy the $75 seats, Waters said.
“The more money that’s donated, the better seat they get at the game,” he said.
After Wednesday, though, they cede their privilege to other fans.
Minnesota has roughly 33,000 season-ticket holders and uses Gopher Points, its own system of preferred seating, Bowman said. The Gophers’ priority deadline for buying tickets to their bowl is Dec. 7.
Four types of tickets are available, ranging from $25 to $75.
Tickets should ship to fans by Dec. 17, Bowman said.
The question now is how many tickets the Gophers will sell.
Bowman said he has no idea whether Minnesota will sell all 12,000 tickets, but he said selling tickets will cause future bowls to see the Gophers as a more viable option.