‘Buy’ games are pretty typical in college basketball in this day and age, and for some lower-level programs they are a necessity, a way for the athletic department to be able to fund the number of teams that they want to fund.
This is how it works: high-major programs offer big money incentives to the smaller programs to fly in to play them and land the hosts a relatively easy win. In exchange, the hosts will dole out as much as six-figures in some cases, money that goes into the bank about of the smaller program’s athletic department.
Typically, you’ll see schools from conferences like the SWAC and the MEAC and the Southland play absolutely ridiculous non-conference schedules, but Long Beach State, who hails from the Big West and is typically one of the better mid-majors nationally, annually plays a schedule that is as tough as anyone.
This season, the 49ers play road games against Xavier, BYU, UCLA, San Diego State, Texas, Louisville, St. John’s and Syracuse. That’s a tougher road slate than some ACC teams will play during their conference season, and it’s not all that different than what is the standard for LBSU.
But according to a report from the San Diego Union-Tribune, the reason for that is that head coach Dan Monson has a clause in his contract that allows him to pocket a significant portion or the money brought in by those buy games:
What Monson doesn’t mention is that the brutal string of road games against college basketball blue bloods also yields him hundreds of thousands of dollars each season. In a unique arrangement, clauses in his last two contracts with Long Beach State allow him to keep a sizeable chunk of the sometimes six-figure guarantees that schools pay for a one-off “buy” game in their arena.
Since 2011-12, according to documents obtained by U-T San Diego, Monson has been eligible to receive nearly $1 million of the $1.46 million paid to Long Beach State from 16 buy games he scheduled.
The report also states that Monson gets a piece of the revenue generated by ticket sales if it reaches a certain threshold.
There’s two ways to look at this. On the one hand, it’s fairly evident that Monson is profiting off of his teams getting smacked around. His new contract, according to the Union-Tribune, allows him to receive up to $348,438 in buy-game money, which would make his contract worth $800,000 annually.
There are all kinds of conflicts of interest when you think of those games directly benefitting his salary.
But if we’re being honest, it works that way at every other school in the country, although it may not be as direct. College basketball coaches don’t come cheap, and part of the reason that smaller schools with smaller budgets are able to afford to pay these guys the salaries they get is because of the money generated by things such as buy games.
So whether or not LBSU is paying Monson bonuses for these buy games, or if they simply paid one of the nation’s best mid-major coaches a competitive salary while using the money brought in from their trips across to country to, say, allow their volleyball teams to afford to travel to league games, it’s all the same end game.
All this LBSU contract does is make it clear where that money is coming from.