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Saturday, May 14, 2005

KU to take advantage of new NCAA rule on I-AA foes

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With the new rules in place, Kansas University senior associate athletic director Larry Keating is hard at work strategically scheduling four years' worth of nonconference football games.

Last month, the NCAA approved the addition of a 12th game to the football schedule and permitted one I-AA opponent to count toward bowl-eligibility every season. Previously, an 11-game season was the norm, and a I-AA opponent counted once every four years.

With the new guidelines, new ideas are in place for Keating as he tries to fill KU's nonconference slate through the rest of this decade.

"We have I-AA's for '06 and '07," Keating said. "We'll play I-AAs in '05, '06, '07 and probably in '08. We'll see what happens."

KU already has I-AA foe Appalachian State scheduled for Sept. 10, but Keating wouldn't say who was scheduled for 2006 and 2007 because the contracts hadn't been finalized.

The I-AA foes likely will be season openers after the 2005 season. After that, Keating wants the final three nonconference opponents to be a 2-for-1 team, a home-and-home game and a guarantee game.

For example, KU has a 2-for-1 contract with Toledo, meaning the Jayhawks will have two home games with the Rockets (2004, 2007) and one road game (2006). KU recently wrapped up a home-and-home series with Northwestern (at Memorial Stadium in 2003, at Northwestern in 2004).

The Sept. 3 battle with Florida Atlantic is considered a guarantee game because KU reportedly will pay FAU a six-figure sum instead of playing a game at the Owls' home stadium in the future.

"Our goal is seven home games a year," Keating said. "In '08, we could have eight home games."

Besides Toledo, KU has a guarantee game with Florida International in 2006, a guarantee game with Central Michigan in 2007 and a home-and-home with Fresno State in 2007 and 2009.

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Big goals: KU is in the process of wooing new season-ticket holders to Memorial Stadium this fall, charging the general public $225 a season ticket for a seven-game home schedule, along with several other deals such as the Family Plan, recent-graduate discounts and a large number of student season tickets.

The athletic department's goal for total season-ticket sales in 2005 is set at 28,850, which would be a 12-percent increase from last season's final tally of 25,702.

As of Thursday, 9,350 full-priced season tickets and more than 13,000 total season tickets had been purchased. KU had hoped to sell 10,500 full-priced season tickets by June 1 and 12,500 by the season opener.

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Big fish: KU also is hoping to attract large single-game sales, particularly for the Oct. 15 game against Oklahoma at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. Kansas needs to sell a lot of tickets to profit from the game, considering revenue from parking and concessions will go the Kansas City Chiefs.

According to KU's football marketing plan, the goal is to sell a total of about 54,000 tickets to the Arrowhead game, which, at $55 for each of the 25,000 single-game tickets, would generate about $1.3 million in gate revenue from single-game sales alone. Included in the target estimate are 12,500 Oklahoma fans.

Single-game tickets will go on sale to the general public Aug. 1.

-- Assistant sports editor Gary Bedore contributed information for this report.

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