Non-conference football scheduling for The Citadel — a quick update

All across our great nation, people are anxiously awaiting the announcement of a new head football coach at The Citadel. At this moment, there is uncertainty and bewilderment, with many questions being asked. When will the decision be made? What does the future hold for the program? Why did UAB hire Trent Dilfer?

Soon, however, a large plume of light blue smoke will emanate from the rooftop of McAlister Field House, the official acknowledgement that a new coach has finally been chosen. (If the plume is black, that means the building is on fire.)

While everyone waits, I’ve decided to write about non-conference football scheduling at The Citadel, an abiding interest of mine.

A couple of months ago, I sent in a FOIA request (something I also did in the fall of 2021) to ask for any non-conference game contracts that had been finalized in the preceding twelve months. After a while, the FOI office at The Citadel kindly responded with the information, and even more kindly did not imply that I was a complete goober for making the request.

What follows is a year-by-year listing of future non-conference games, including the contests I’ve written about before and the “new” games on the schedule.

2023

As was the case this past season, The Citadel will play only five home games in 2023. The FBS opponent next year will be Georgia Southern, with the game scheduled for September 2. The payout for that contest is $320,000, along with 300 complimentary tickets.

The following week (September 9), Campbell will play the Bulldogs in Johnson Hagood Stadium to open The Citadel’s home slate. This is the return game from the 2022 season opener; as is typical, the visitors will receive 300 complimentary tickets.

Two weeks later, on September 23, The Citadel will travel to Orangeburg to face South Carolina State. This will be the first time the (Charleston) Bulldogs will have played SCSU at Oliver C. Dawson Stadium.

2024

2024 is a year in which an FCS school can play a 12-game regular season, and that is exactly what The Citadel will do. Thus, there are four non-conference games.

South Carolina State will make the trek down I-26 to Charleston on September 7, completing a home-and-home agreement. Incidentally, for both the 2023 and 2024 contests each visiting school will receive 300 complimentary tickets, but no others for sale.

On September 14, The Citadel will host North Greenville. The Crusaders will receive $40,000 for their appearance, which is the same amount VUL was paid this past season.

North Greenville will receive 300 complimentary tickets; the contract also states that NGU “shall be allotted TBD tickets on consignment for sale to its followers.” When it comes to evaluating contract details, ‘TBD’ is a tough nut to crack.

The other two non-conference contests will be road games for The Citadel. The first is the season opener, on August 31, at Charleston Southern.

My personal opinion is that scheduling this game is a mistake, for reasons that I have discussed before, but I won’t go on a long harangue about it in this space. The Citadel will receive 300 complimentary tickets and another “500 hard tickets for consignment”.

On November 23, The Citadel will play at Clemson, completing a contract that included the 2020 matchup between the two schools. The payout for this contest is $475,000.

The military college will receive 300 complimentary tickets for the Clemson game and may request an additional 2,000 tickets for sale. For anyone interested, here is the specific language in the contract for those tickets:

The Visiting Institution shall be allocated up to 2,000 tickets for sale if requested by February 1st [2024]. Unsold tickets must be returned to the Host Institution by May 1st prior to the game date. The Visiting Institution is responsible for paying the printed face value to the Host Institution for any tickets not returned to Host Institution by the agreed upon date as set forth above.

2025

This is another year in which FCS teams have the option to play 12 regular-season contests.

The Citadel has two non-conference games scheduled so far for the 2025 season. On September 6, the Bulldogs will face Mississippi in Oxford. The payout for that game is $500,000, with 600 complimentary tickets. The contract also stipulates that the visiting team “shall be allotted an additional 3,400 tickets for its followers in the customary Visiting Team location”.

This past April, The Citadel entered into an agreement with Gardner-Webb for a home-and-home series, with the first game taking place in Boiling Springs, North Carolina on September 13, 2025. The agreement includes 250 complimentary tickets for the visiting school, rather than the usual 300.

The Mississippi and Gardner-Webb games are the only non-conference matchups scheduled so far for 2025.

2026

In 2026, the return matchup for the two-game contract with Charleston Southern will take place in Charleston on September 19. The ticket distribution will be the same for the visitors as it is for the 2024 contest.

Originally, the contest was to be played on September 5, but Charleston Southern apparently asked for the game to be moved. The Buccaneers are currently slated to play at Clemson on October 17, 2026, but perhaps an additional FBS opponent could be in the mix for CSU. Charleston Southern agreed to pay The Citadel $20,000 to change the game date.

Shortly after the addendum making the change was finalized, The Citadel signed an agreement to play at Charlotte on September 5, 2026 (yes, the same date as the original gameday for the CSU contest). The payout is $305,000.

The Citadel also receives 400 complimentary tickets and 600 tickets for sale, although I’m a little perplexed at a caveat in the contract concerning this part of the agreement:

Should Visiting Team sell less than 400 tickets they are responsible for payment to make up difference to 400. If Visiting Team sells 600 tickets or more, they will receive a payment of $5,000.

The Citadel currently has one opening remaining on its 2026 schedule.

2027

Only one game has been scheduled so far for the 2027 season, but it is noteworthy.

The Citadel will face Navy in Annapolis on September 4, 2027. This would be the first time the schools have met on the gridiron since the 1989 season (a 14-10 Bulldogs victory which came immediately after Hurricane Hugo ravaged Charleston).

The payout for the game is $200,000, with 300 complimentary tickets. The contract also states that “Navy will set ticket prices. Allocation will be made to The Citadel by mutual agreement.” I am not sure if that means The Citadel could receive more tickets for sale.

2028

The only officially scheduled matchup for 2028 is the second game of the previously mentioned contract with Gardner-Webb, this time played in Charleston (on September 2). The ticketing distribution is the same as for the 2025 meeting.

Another potential non-conference game in 2028, a contest at Clemson, is not yet official. (More on that later.)

2029

The Citadel is scheduled to play Army at West Point on October 6, 2029. The original contract (signed in March 2021) had established November 17 as the game date, but an addendum signed just a week and a half later changed the date to early October.

The payout will be $200,000, matching The Citadel’s guarantee for the Navy contest.

Per the terms of the contract with Army, The Citadel will receive 3,000 tickets for sale on consignment, but that number includes 500 complimentary tickets.

2033

Four years later, The Citadel and Army will meet again (on November 19, 2033), with this contest also held at Michie Stadium. The contract was finalized on the same day that the addendum to the 2029 matchup was signed. (The 2029 and 2033 games are separate contracts.)

Ticket distribution is unchanged from the terms for the 2029 game.

Short version of the above:

2023: at Georgia Southern, Campbell, at South Carolina State

2024: at Charleston Southern, South Carolina State, North Greenville, at Clemson

2025: at Mississippi, at Gardner-Webb

2026: at Charlotte, Charleston Southern

2027: at Navy

2028: Gardner-Webb

2029: at Army

2033: at Army

In September, Andrew Miller of The Post and Courier wrote an article about the difficulties The Citadel’s football program has faced in trying to schedule FBS opponents. The story included this paragraph:

The Citadel will travel to Statesboro, Ga., to face Georgia Southern next year. The Bulldogs will face Power 5 schools Clemson (2024, 2028) and Mississippi (2025) in the near future.

When I made my FOIA request, there was some initial confusion about the 2028 game at Clemson — well, I was confused, anyway. I was subsequently informed (for which I greatly appreciate) that the 2028 contest against the Tigers, while verbally agreed upon, is not yet finalized.

For those unaware of the rule, I guess I should explain the 12-game regular season scheduling opportunity for certain seasons. Per bylaw 17.11.6.1. of the NCAA Division I manual (2022 edition):

Twelve football contests [for FCS schools] shall be permissible during those years in which there are 14 Saturdays from the first permissible playing date through the last playing date in November…

In some years (2019 being the most recent example), there are 14 Saturdays in the period starting with Labor Day weekend and ending with the last Saturday of November. When that happens, FCS schools can schedule 12 regular-season games, instead of 11. The next three years in which that will be the case are 2024, 2025, and 2030.

The Citadel will need two non-conference home matchups in 2025 to set up a six-game home schedule (in a 12-game season). I could see schools like Presbyterian and Newberry getting a call.

I think The Citadel would definitely not be precluded from scheduling another FBS opponent in 2027, when Navy is on the slate; the same is true for 2029 and 2033, when the games against Army are played.

As an aside, with the current upheaval in college sports, I would not purchase hotel rooms for that 2033 game at Army just yet. Contracts are contracts, but the world of intercollegiate athletics will be vastly different in a decade, if not sooner.

The upcoming matchups with the service academies are not true “money games”, in my opinion. Realistically, The Citadel is not going to balance the books on the backs of those contests. The guarantees are not nearly as substantial as those from “Power 5” institutions, and the travel costs will be greater.

That said, I am glad to see them scheduled. Our fans want to see those games. That includes graduates and other supporters who do not live in the south.

I have always felt that The Citadel should occasionally play games outside of its geographic region. It might not be the optimal financial decision from the point of view of the department of athletics, but I think it is important to promote the school in other parts of the country — and it is obviously a boon to those alums living in more distant locales.

One of my favorite trips as a fan was making the journey to see The Citadel play at Princeton in 2009. I was really impressed with how many graduates from that part of the country showed up to see the Bulldogs in action.

I also suspect these out-of-region contests can be successfully leveraged from a fundraising perspective. That might not necessarily help the budget of varsity athletics, at least immediately, but it is good for the college as a whole.

Notably absent from any future non-conference schedules: South Carolina.

Concluding thought: I would enjoy watching The Citadel play UCLA in the Rose Bowl…

One Response

  1. thanks for the info and your hard work !

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