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Nevada basketball's non-conference schedule a big financial win for the Wolf Pack

Desmond Cambridge Jr.
Desmond Cambridge Jr. steals the ball from a Boise State player during a game last season. (David Calvert/Nevada athletics)

While Wolf Pack basketball fans weren't thrilled with the team's non-conference schedule, it is one of the most economically friendly schedules in recent program history.

The Wolf Pack typically has a $200,000-$250,000 budget for game guarantees, relatively low for a program with NCAA Tournament aspirations. But that's been the going rate for Nevada non-conference schedules the last decade with the exception of the 2018-19 season when Nevada spent $400,000 on its non-league schedule (last year, it was in that $200,000 range pre-pandemic).

This year's non-conference schedule, which coach Steve Alford has defended despite it lacking marquee games, will cost Nevada only $40,000. Add in the fact the 13-game schedule is regionally friendly with all of the road and neutral-site games being located in the Western U.S., and the Wolf Pack basketball schedule will save the cash-strapped Nevada athletic department a good chunk of money compared to normal seasons.

Of Nevada's 13 non-league games, eight are part of home-and-home series against mid-major schools and require no payments either way. The only two game guarantees Nevada will have to hand out are to Eastern Washington (a $75,000 cost) and Minnesota-Duluth (a $40,000 cost). Nevada has typically paid non-Division I schools like Minnesota-Duluth just $4,000 per game, but Alford explained last year if a non-DI team requires a plane trip, the going rate will be $40,000. Alford said he likes to reward his former players and assistant coaches at lower levels with games, and Minnesota-Duluth is coached by Justin Wieck, who played for Alford at Iowa before being a grad assistant coach there.

The team's three other non-conference games will be at the Crossover Classic in Sioux Falls, S.D. MTEs (multiple-team events) typically require the participating team to pay to play. For example, last year's scheduled Cayman Islands Classic was to cost Nevada $71,500 plus almost 120 room nights. The Crossover Classic, however, will pay Nevada $75,000 to appear in the tournament in addition to up to $20,500 in per diem and flight reimbursement. That tournament, which includes games against Washington, George Mason and South Dakota State, is a big financial winner for Nevada.

The Wolf Pack has not scheduled its two exhibition games yet, but those typically cost about $4,000 each. In total, Nevada's outlay for its non-conference and exhibition season should cost around $50,000, a modest amount for a Division I school. Here is a game-by-game financial breakdown of the Wolf Pack's non-conference schedule. The contracts for each game was obtained by Nevada Sports Net via a public records request.

Game 1 vs. Eastern Washington (Nov. 9)

Cost: Nevada pays EWU, $75,000

Perks: EWU gets 50 complimentary tickets; refs assigned by MW; EWU will be provided 20 room nights at a hotel designated by Nevada; $100,000 cancellation policy

Return game: No return game

Game 2 vs. San Diego (Nov. 12)

Cost: No payment

Perks: USD gets 75 complimentary tickets; refs assigned by MW; $50,000 cancellation policy

Return game: This is a return game from Nevada playing at USD during the 2020-21 season

Game 3 at Santa Clara (Nov. 16)

Cost: No payment

Perks: Nevada gets 50 complimentary tickets; refs assigned by WCC; $100,000 cancellation policy

Return game: This is a return game from Santa Clara playing at Nevada during the 2019-20 season

Game 4 at San Francisco (Nov. 18)

Cost: No payment

Perks: Nevada gets 50 complimentary tickets; refs assigned by WCC; $200,000 cancellation policy

Return game: This is a return game from USF playing at Nevada during the 2020-21 season

Games 5-7 at Crossover Classic (Nov. 22-24)

Includes games with Washington, George Mason and South Dakota State

Cost: Nevada gets a $75,000 payment

Perks: Nevada gets $8,500 in per diem; flight reimbursement up $12,000; ground transportation for the event; 17 hotels rooms (16 double rooms and one suite) for five days and four nights; 25 complimentary tickets per gam; option to purchase up to 300 more tickets; Nevada agrees to conduct COVID-19 testing within 48 hours of team's departure for event; $100,000 cancellation policy

Return game: No return game

Game 8 vs. Pepperdine (Nov. 30)

Cost: No payment

Perks: Pepperdine gets 50 complimentary tickets; refs assigned by MW; $100,000 cancellation policy

Return game: Nevada will play at Pepperdine in 2022-23

Game 9 at North Texas (Dec. 4)

Cost: No payment

Perks: Nevada gets 50 complimentary tickets; refs assigned by Conference USA; $100,000 cancellation policy

Return game: North Texas will play at Nevada in 2022-23

Game 10 at Texas-Arlington (Dec. 7)

Cost: No payment

Perks: Nevada gets 50 complimentary tickets; refs assigned by Sun Belt; $100,000 cancellation policy

Return game: This is a return game from UTA playing at Nevada during the 2019-20 season

Game 11 vs. Minnesota-Duluth (Dec. 15)

Cost: Nevada pays UMD, $40,000

Perks: UMD gets 50 complimentary tickets; refs assigned by MW; Minnesota-Duluth will be provided 20 room nights at a hotel designated by Nevada; $100,000 cancellation policy

Return game: No return game

Game 12 vs. Loyola Marymount (Dec. 18)

Cost: No payment

Perks: LMU gets 50 complimentary tickets; refs assigned by MW; $100,000 cancellation policy

Return game: Nevada will play at LMU in 2022-23

Game 13 vs. Grand Canyon (Dec. 21)

Cost: No payment

Perks: Grand Canyon gets 50 complimentary tickets; refs assigned by MW; $300,000 cancellation policy

Return game: This is a return game from Nevada playing at Grand Canyon during the 2020-21 season

Sports columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at crmurray@sbgtv.com or follow him on Twitter @ByChrisMurray.

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