A Look at College Basketball Non-Conference Scheduling Through the Eyes of Utah Valley

One of the first responsibilities for new Utah Valley Head Coach Mark Madsen, a two-time NBA champion and nine-year veteran who played for the Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves, in his first season as a college head coach was to fill out the Wolverines’ non-conference schedule for the 2019-20 season.

It’s a task that every coach and athletic program have to complete annually, but it’s one for which Madsen had an additional financial incentive to do so prudently.

As part of the 20-page contract Madsen signed with Utah Valley in April, he has the ability to earn up to $25,000 in additional compensation for “directly securing a minimum of $150,000 in guarantee games” by Oct. 1. Low-major and mid-major schools will often fill out a significant portion of their non-conference schedules with “guarantee games,” where a bigger school will pay a smaller school to travel to their home arena.

For the bigger schools, it provides likely wins and home games, which provide revenue through ticket sales and concessions. For the smaller schools, it provides pay checks — sometimes big ones.

Madsen’s annual base salary is $225,000 so this potential additional compensation from Utah Valley’s non-conference scheduling provides him with roughly an 11% bonus.

If Madsen secures more than the desired $150,000 in guarantee games for Utah Valley, his contract stipulates that he can distribute the additional amount to his assistant coaches with the approval of the school’s athletic director and vice president for finance and administration.

While the individual terms of Madsen’s contract that allow him to receive a bonus from securing guarantee games might be unique to Utah Valley and its head coach, clauses in coaching contracts that provide bonuses for smart scheduling aren’t necessarily unique.

For example, Indiana, a blue blood that spent more money on recruiting in 2018 than any other school in the country, agreed to an incentive in Head Coach Archie Miller’s contract that provides Miller with an additional $125,000 annually if the Hoosiers’ non-conference schedule features no more than one opponent whose final RPI rating was above 300 the previous season. (And yes, there was a provision in that contract that both parties shall amend the clause to “be consistent with the new definition or formulation” of the RPI, which was replaced the NET rankings last season.)

On Aug. 15, Utah Valley announced its complete schedule for the upcoming season, which includes 15 non-conference games.

Stadium obtained the signed contracts for nine of Utah Valley’s non-conference games via a public records request and found that the university secured $345,000 in guarantees from those games, including $150,000 from one multi-team exempt event that’s headlined by Kentucky.

Here’s the complete breakdown from those non-conference games:

  • BBN Showcase | $150,000
    • Nov. 15, 2019: at UAB
    • Nov. 18, 2019: at Kentucky
    • Nov. 21, 2019: vs. Lamar
    • Nov. 26, 2019: at Mount St. Mary’s
  • Dec. 1, 2019: at Colorado State | $85,000
  • Dec. 7, 2019: at Southern Utah | $0 (agreed to before Madsen was hired)
  • Dec. 14, 2019: vs. Northern Arizona | $0
  • Dec. 18, 2019: at Wyoming | $45,000
  • Dec. 21, 2019: at Long Beach State | $65,000


Utah Valley reported $300,000 in men’s basketball guarantees on its 2018 NCAA Financial Report, so the university potentially added $45,000 in revenue from guarantee games this season compared to two seasons ago, depending on how much of the money from this year’s guarantee games is distributed to the team’s assistant coaches.

NCAA Financial Reports list 19 types of revenue items ranging from ticket sales to media rights, and the $300,000 in guarantee games were the only form of revenue Utah Valley’s men’s basketball program reported two seasons ago.

It made up roughly two percent of the athletic department’s total revenue from the year ($15,107,741).

In 2018, Utah Valley’s athletic department reported a profit of just $77,068, so theoretically, if the university’s athletic department is still only marginally profitable, the additional $45,000 secured by Madsen and the men’s basketball program could lead to a significant percent increase in profit from two years ago, ultimately benefiting Madsen, his program and the university’s athletic department.

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