How will Missouri State be ‘budget-neutral’ with CUSA move? Here are new revenue streams.

NCAA Basketball

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Missouri State has promised its move to Conference USA will be “budget neutral” as expenses are guaranteed to increase when the Bears move to a league that goes from Delaware to Miami to New Mexico.

The Bears are banking on several revenue streams that weren’t available to them in the past as they enter a new tier of college football.

Here are a few ways Missouri State will bring in more money as it aims to be “budget neutral.”

Conference USA television and streaming deal

Being a full-time member of an FBS conference comes with hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in television and streaming media rights deals that weren’t nearly as much where the Bears are leaving behind. Media rights deals have been the biggest driving force behind conference realignment at the highest levels and play a big part in why MSU made the move.

In Nov. 2022, CUSA announced a five-year media rights contract with CBS Sports Network and ESPN with a network option for a sixth year, according to a report in the Sports Business Journal. The deal doubled the league’s previous media rights deal with an estimated $800,000 to each school per year.

In comparison, for fiscal year 2023, Louisiana Tech reported $618,202 in media rights revenue while Missouri State reported $50,000.

More: How Missouri State football coach Ryan Beard is approaching Conference USA, FBS jump

Conference distributions from playing in bowl games

Belonging to an FCS conference led to no money coming from bowl games. Yet, being in an FBS conference will lead to earnings each year whether the Bears qualify or not.

Four Conference USA teams qualified for bowl games last season, including Liberty making the Fiesta Bowl which paid the league $4 million.

Louisiana Tech, which hasn’t made a bowl game since 2020, reported $975,781 in conference distributions for fiscal year 2023. It also listed just over $3 million in conference distributions, not including media rights or bowl-generated revenue, while the Valley paid MSU $915,411 for the same year.

More: Q&A with Conference USA commissioner Judy MacLeod: Why did CUSA add Missouri State?

Money received in buy games will increase

The money Missouri State receives for playing teams like Arkansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Mizzou and Kansas, among others, in recent years will drastically increase by being an FBS program and making it a more attractive team for schools to schedule.

For example, Missouri State is getting paid $325,000 for the 2024 season to travel to Ball State. The following week, Ball State is getting paid $1.5 million to play at Miami (Florida).

Future contracts for Missouri State buy games include a $500,000 payout from Arkansas for 2025, $450,000 from Kansas State in 2026 and $550,000 to play Mizzou in 2029. Those numbers figure to go up in future contracts.

Ball State, a MAC member, and Conference USA member Middle Tennessee scheduled a home-and-home against each other that won’t cost either anything, leading to the possibilities of other Group of 5 programs coming to Springfield someday instead of Missouri State being paid to go elsewhere.

Missouri State will likely have to pay others, including FCS programs, to come to Springfield someday but believes the revenue it will collect from buy games will ultimately turn into a profit when scheduling.

More: Missouri State says it’s ‘time to think big and be bold’ with leap to Conference USA

Missouri State hopes it turns into higher attendance, donations

Missouri State President Clif Smart talks abut the universities decision to join Conference USA and leave the Missouri Valley Conference during a press conference at Great Southern Bank Arena on Monday, May 13, 2024.
Missouri State President Clif Smart talks abut the universities decision to join Conference USA and leave the Missouri Valley Conference during a press conference at Great Southern Bank Arena on Monday, May 13, 2024.

Missouri State’s administration hopes that with its investment in its athletics program, others will follow.

It’s not something Missouri State is necessarily budgeting for as athletics director Kyle Moats said he’ll continue to be conservative when projecting attendance and the donations the school receives. MSU knows the $5 million investment Tom Strong made to help it get to Conference USA won’t be matched anytime soon, but it hopes others will help the different programs take steps forward.

Missouri State made over $3.5 million in contributions in fiscal year 2023. That’s more than Western Kentucky ($3.2 million), Middle Tennessee ($1.4 million) and Florida International ($2.5 million) and less than Louisiana Tech ($5.5 million) for the same year.

More: Missouri State to Conference USA: Here’s what it means as the Bears move to FBS

Will Missouri State’s institutional support change?

In an interview with the News-Leader, Moats said he didn’t believe the subsidy Missouri State allocates to athletics will change much upon its move to Conference USA. That number has hung around $15 to $18 million over the last six years with the COVID-19-impacted 2020 season being an exception.

“I don’t think it’ll change much,” Moats said. “It can’t because the university doesn’t have it. I don’t think that’ll be the case. If they want to give us more money, we’ll certainly take it. It’s not necessarily my call but I would expect it to stay flat.”

This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: Missouri State to Conference USA: New revenue streams with FBS move

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