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Football: Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns and Missouri Tigers discuss rescheduling football game

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, Feb. 16, 2021

The Ragin’ Cajuns are in negotiations with Missouri regarding resolution of their canceled 2020 game with the Tigers, UL athletic director Bryan Maggard said Monday.

UL was set to receive $1.3 million for playing at Missouri on Nov. 21, but the game wasn’t played after the SEC canceled nonconference games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Maggard told The Daily Advertiser the Cajuns are “having continued dialogue with” Missouri regarding possible rescheduling.

According to the game contract between the schools, “In the event of fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, epidemic, war, invasion, hostilities, rebellion, insurrection, confiscation by order of the government, military or public authority or prohibitory authority, making it impossible or impractical to play the game, both parties shall be relieved of any and all obligations of this agreement.”

It’s uncertain whether Missouri can use the "epidemic" language as a means to not pay some or all of the $1.3 million game fee. According to the United States’ Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “pandemic refers to an epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people.”

Maggard, who worked 21 years at Missouri before becoming UL’s athletic director, said the two sides are negotiating how much of the $1.3 million fee the Cajuns would receive.

“We continue to work with Louisiana officials to resolve this issue, however, until a resolution is in place, it would be inappropriate to comment further,” Missouri deputy athletics director for communication Nick Joos told The Advertiser on Monday.

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The Cajuns lost other games

When the Cajuns and Tigers could play remains uncertain for a UL program whose nonconference scheduling was turned upside down by the pandemic.

UL lost all four of its original 2020 nonconference games, including its season opener against McNeese State, which will play its season this spring.  The Cajuns “are working with” McNeese to schedule a future game, Maggard said.

Wyoming and New Mexico State also canceled on UL prior to the season, and the Cajuns canceled their game at Central Arkansas due to positive COVID-19 tests and contract tracing within the UL program.

There was no penalty for canceling the game against UCA because of a pandemic force majeure clause in the contract, according to Maggard. A force majeure clause outlines unforeseeable circumstances that prevent contract terms from being met.

The Cajuns reworked their two-game series with Wyoming, which now is scheduled to visit UL in 2029.

UL ended up adding two nonconference games this past season, after adding Iowa State and UAB.

The Cajuns received $350,000 for the Iowa State game, a sum that pales compared to the payday they would have by playing Missouri.

The lost income occurs during a fiscal year in which Maggard said the Cajuns face a budget deficit that could soar to $8 million.

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Big paydays coming for UL

In 2021, UL is scheduled to play nonconference games at Texas and at Liberty and at home against Nicholls State and Ohio.

The Cajuns are slated to receive $1.5 million for playing for the Longhorns.

UL’s 2022 nonconference schedule also is full, including a visit to Florida State ($1.4 million payout). It has three nonconference games for 2023, including Minnesota ($1.3 million).

Asked whether the Cajuns could make up lost income by cancelling one of their other three 2021 nonconference games and scheduling another Power 5 opponent, Maggard said, “It’s not quite that simple, because people have their schedules set as well. So you have to identify somebody (available).

“You’ve got to realize the larger schools … a buy-game opponent … their schedules are going to be set as well,” Maggard said, “and it’s going to be even more challenging for Louisiana to find those games based on the recent success we’re having.”

The Cajuns went 10-1 last season and finished the season ranked at No. 16 in the Amway Coaches Poll and No. 15 in the AP Top 25.

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