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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

May 26, 2009 at 3:39 PM

UW, WSU can change rivalry game contract if they want

As noted a couple of days ago, we began a series on Sunday looking at some of the financial issues facing both UW and WSU. My contribution was this story reporting that Washington athletic director Scott Woodward is a proponent of sharing more of the football revenue created in the conference.
In my interview with outgoing Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen as part of that story, he said something I hadn’t heard before — that the “rivalry game” provision stating that ticket proceeds from the five football rivalry games in the Pac-10 — UW-WSU, Oregon-Oregon State, etc. — was amended in 2006 at the request of then-Washington athletic director Todd Turner.
Like Woodward is now, Turner then was concerned about the fact that there is such a disparity in the money that UW hands to WSU when the game is played in Seattle opposed to what the Huskies get from the Cougars then the game is in Pullman. The figures from UW officials that I quoted in my story reported that UW gave WSU $1,094,630 when the game was played in Seattle in 2007, while getting $443,371 for the game in Pullman in 2008. It’s apparently been a pretty similar disparity for a while now.
Turner wanted to change that policy so the revenue split on the Apple Cup would be more equal to UW. Hansen said that effort did not succeed with other institutions not wanting to change the policy. However, Turner was able to get passed an amendment to the rivalry game provision that the two schools involved “can negotiate a mutually agreeable settlement if they so desire.”
Obviously, there’s zero reason for WSU to willingly give up hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Huskies, so nothing has changed and the split is still 50-50 every year.
However, I thought it interesting to pass along that this has been a bone of contention at UW for a while now and not just something that’s become an issue in the last year or so, as was maybe easy to think when this all arose a few months ago.
It also shows that the two schools wouldn’t have to resort to something as drastic as moving the game to Qwest Field in an effort to even out the revenue streams a little — though again, there’s obviously no motivation for WSU to ever do that unless it gets something out of the deal, as well. Hence, the Qwest Field proposal.
Hansen, however, noted that the UW-WSU game is no longer the only rivalry where this is an issue. With Stanford having decreased seating in its stadium from 85,500 to 50,000 after a renovation in 2006, the Big Game no longer brings in as much revenue when played in Palo Alto as it does in Berkeley, where the capacity is 72,516. So apparently, simply splitting the revenue is becoming an issue in that rivalry game, as well.



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