CMU, Indiana continue dispute over football contract

Central Michigan University and Indiana University continue to argue the contractual terms of a contract for football signed by both schools.

Athletics Director Dave Heeke said legal counsels from both universities are currently in discussions over a breach of contract that began with IU backing out of a scheduled trip to Mount Pleasant this fall. While both schools are still mulling it over, Heeke said no official legal action has been taken.

“There hasn’t been a resolution to this point,” Heeke said. “We’re very disappointed with the fact that Indiana dropped the series and breached the contract. Fundamentally, I think it’s the right thing for them to compensate us accordingly.”

In January, Indiana was forced to cancel the second of the three-game series with CMU — with a buyout of $150,000 — after it moved its scheduled home game against Penn State to a neutral site, creating the need for another home game.

“Certainly for the breach of the contract for the first game, that’s entirely my responsibility and I called Dave and apologized for that,” said IU Athletics Director Fred Glass. “We preceded to make some adjustments to our schedule that we needed to make and anticipated flipping those games and all would be fine. As it turns out, Central Michigan couldn’t really flip the games. They had good reason why that didn’t work for them, they had to maintain the same number of home games and couldn’t make the change.”

CMU then followed suit by canceling the third game, to be played at a future date in Bloomington, Ind., effectively ending the playing agreement between both schools. The third game had a buyout of $200,000, an amount at the center of the dispute.

Heeke maintains that by canceling the second game, IU breached the entire contract and owes CMU $350,000.

“Indiana had forwarded an e-mail to us stating that they wanted to buy out the games and that’s kind of where we are,” Heeke said. “Now they’ve indicated that they don’t feel like they should have to. It’s one of the real disappointing things in our profession that is not consistent with what we should be doing. I think people should own up to the contracts that they established.”

But Glass has a different take on the situation. He said they were forced to cancel the second game because of scheduling conflicts, while CMU nixed the third game because of angst.

“We had hoped to play the next game of the series at IU and advised Central Michigan that we were ready, willing and able to play that game, but Central Michigan chose to breach that game, and I don’t really think it was an economic breach,” Glass said. “I understand why they were mad at us, but there was really no reason for them to breach that other than for retribution, and I get that. I regret that we felt like we had to breach the upcoming game, I acknowledged that and apologized for that, but under the contract, that doesn’t excuse Central Michigan from playing its next game.”

CMU beat Indiana 37-34 in Bloomington in 2008.

CMU-MSU game in 2011 a go

With the addition of Nebraska to the Big Ten Conference in 2011, some have speculated potential scheduling ramifications an additional team might have.

The (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) Gazette reported last week scheduled non-conference games over the last nine weeks of the season may pose an issue. One of the three mentioned was the Central Michigan-Michigan State game scheduled for Oct. 8, 2011.

But Heeke said he has had conversations with MSU Athletics Director Mark Hollis, who has assured him that the addition of a 12th team to the conference will have no effect on the 2011 or ’12 game.

“Certainly with conference expansion we’re all concerned there could be a trickle-down effect of scheduling, but I’ve had open dialogue with Mark and he’s assured me there’s no issues,” Heeke said. “I’m very confident that we’re stable with Michigan State and we’re looking forward to the ’11 game down there and certainly the ’12 game here in Mount Pleasant.”

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