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Mississippi State drops Mississippi Valley from 2013 schedule
Delta Devils’ scholarship issues forced move, says MSU AD Scott Stricklin, costing MVSU $350K
Scholarship difficulties at Mississippi Valley State forced Mississippi State to cancel its football season opener against the Delta Devils in 2013, school officials confirmed.
The cancellation will come at a price for Valley, a historically black university that desperately needs money for its football program. MSU was expected to pay the Southwestern Athletic Conference school $350,000 for the game in Starkville on Aug. 31, 2013.
The cancellation stems from an NCAA rule that prohibits Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams from “counting” a win against a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) team that does not meet the NCAA’s financial aid requirements.
Valley falls below the guideline, which requires an FCS team to provide financial aid to at least 90 percent of its 63-man roster limit over a rolling two-year period. Delta Devils coach Karl Morgan said roughly 40 players - 63 percent - are on scholarship, though that number is likely lower.
“When the talk started about us playing Mississippi State, I didn’t think it was ever going to come to pass because of the lack of scholarships,” Morgan said. “We weren’t going to miraculously jump from where we were to where we needed to be.”
Donald Sims, MVSU’s interim athletic director, said the school has “started to get those numbers up” so games against FBS teams could be scheduled in the future.
MSU and MVSU asked the NCAA for a waiver to the scholarship rule but that request was declined in the spring, MSU athletic director Scott Stricklin said.
MSU is expected to replace Valley with another FCS team on its 2013 schedule. Administrators could tweak dates in the non-conference schedule, which includes a trip to UAB and home games against Troy and Bowling Green, to accommodate a replacement.
“I have a pretty good idea of the direction we’re headed but we don’t have contracts signed,” Stricklin said.
MVSU will not receive a payout for the game’s cancellation, Stricklin said. The potential $350,000 payday exceeds MVSU’s football revenue ($274,000) for the 2012 fiscal year.
“If we had the scholarship numbers, we could play a game a year and make some big bucks,” said Morgan, who enters his third season at MVSU in the fall. “It’s almost worth us investing in the scholarships because then we could get the $300,000 or $400,000 payday.”
Valley is 1-20 over the last two seasons.
“You’re going to get your head kicked in,” said Morgan, “but if you do and take that $300,000 and reinvest it, you can grow your program.”
Valley would have been the third in-state HBCU to play MSU in a five-year span. MSU played Alcorn State in 2010 and Jackson State will open the upcoming season at MSU on Sept. 1. JSU, which also played MSU in 2009, will receive more than $650,000 for playing two games in Starkville.
“We appreciate MSU athletic director Scott Stricklin for reaching out to us, knowing the financial situation that plagues all HBCUs in Mississippi,” Sims said in a statement.
By Brandon Marcello, Clarion Ledger