Should Florida Pay Idaho Even Though The Game Was Canceled?

In the wake of Florida’s canceled game against Idaho, Howard Bloom with SportingNews broached an interesting debate: should UF pay the Idaho Vandals despite the game never taking place?

According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, UF is likely exempt from payment due to the game’s cancelation on account of an “act of God,” as many non-conference game contracts contain the following clause:

For his part, Bloom feels Florida has a moral obligation to pay Idaho. His assertion is based on the fact that the Gators football program made over $51 million in profit during 2013. With all but 20 of the 125 FBS programs expected to lose money or, at best, break even on football this season, Bloom believes it’s only right for Florida to cover the opponents $975,000 fee and any future costs, should the game be rescheduled.

So what is the perception of a football program that makes over $50 million not at the very least offering to cover the expenses Idaho budgeted for Saturday’s game?

While it may not be legally bound to pay Idaho, there’s a moral obligation for Florida to pay the Vandals the full guarantee and agree to cover all costs if the game is rescheduled for October.

The payment issue is a double-edged sword. On one hand, UF is essentially a benefactor here. They have the greater budget, larger exposure and all around bigger brand. Why should they big league a smaller school if they obviously have the resources? Also, how big of a PR hit would it be to perceivably renege on a deal, should the masses, like Bloom, feel they have an obligation.

On the other hand, $975K is no small chunk of change. Especially when you consider that Florida didn’t see the return it expected from the game. Ticket refunds, as well as drops in concession and merchandise sales hurt the Gators’ bottom line on Saturday. Moreover, while there might be a moral obligation, there doesn’t appear to be a legal one. When everything is stripped away, college athletics is, at its core, big business. And in big business, even morality has a price tag.

A good compromise might be for UF to cover Idaho’s total travel expenses, but withhold the total $975K, pending a rescheduling of the game. As is the nature of a compromise, neither program wins, though Idaho would essentially zero out (assuming they haven’t already funded projects with the unreceived money), while UF could abstain from paying for any services not yet rendered.

As of post, the schools have not yet settled on an agreement.

Let us know in the comments section what you think the resolution should be.

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  • romanmoronie

    I’ve read elsewhere where Florida will be paying the $975,000. However, if the clause reads as it was stated on the Sporting News, Florida was obligated to pay it anyway. The acts of God referred to in the clause would have been acts that stopped the visiting team from showing up, not showing up then having the game cancelled. Idaho fulfilled its contractual obligation; Florida had no choice but to fulfill theirs.