A Fort Lewis College trustee has accused the athletic department of “pigskin prostitution” for scheduling a game against the much larger University of Montana, resulting in a 49-0 drubbing after a 17-hour bus ride.
“Why do we do this,” Peter Decker, one of seven members of the Board of Trustees, said in an exchange with the school’s athletic director reported by the Durango Herald reported.
Fort Lewis has an enrollment of about 4,000, compared to 14,000 at Montana. Fort Lewis has 18 football scholarships Montana offers 63.
“We play these games out of necessity, not because we want to,” said Athletics Director Kent Stanley said. “It’s really a matter of economics.” Stanley said Fort Lewis received $50,000 for the game. The average contract for such “guarantee games” in the Big Sky conference, of which Montana is a member, is $15,000 to $25,000, Stanley said.
He said that without the money from these games “our football program wouldn’t have the funds to play our conference schedule.”
The Herald said big schools usually such early guarantee games as warm ups before clashing with their conference opponents. Some would argue that nothing is guaranteed. On Sept. 1, Appalachian State beat perennial national contender Michigan before 109,218 fans in Ann Arbor.
Fort Lewis is currently negotiating with schools for possible guarantee games next year. In past seasons the team played two guarantee games, but this season Montana was the only one.
“Our budget has traditionally been built on including those kinds of games,” Stanley said. “I think that most institutions on our level would probably prefer not to play guarantee games, but it’s both an economic necessity and a unique experience for the young men unlike anything you’d get in Division II.”
Stanley noted the crushing 61-0 loss on Sept. 15 at University of Nebraska-Kearney, a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference opponent, was more worrisome.
Decker’s comment was made during a presentation by Stanley about the athletic department’s progress.
On Saturday, the SkyHawks lost their third straight of the season, 17-3, at home, to Mesa State.
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