Notre Dame football will pay Tennessee State a $1 million guarantee when the Tigers visit South Bend for the 2023 season opener for both teams.
The Sept. 2 nationally televised game was announced on April 5. The guarantee is the largest ever for TSU. Contract details were obtained through a public records request by The Tennessean.
Payment of the guarantee must be made within 60 days after the game is played, according to the contract signed on March 22. TSU will have the option to purchase up to 5,000 tickets for the game.
TSU faced one FBS opponent in 2021 losing in the final game of the season at Mississippi State 55-10.
It will be the first time Notre Dame has played an FCS opponent or historically Black college and university.
“Let me just say (TSU athletics director Mikki) Allen negotiated for a bigger guarantee than we budgeted,” Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick said at a news conference to announce the game.
TSU coach Eddie George, who was at the news conference, chuckled after Swarbrick said Allen asked for more than Notre Dame was willing to pay.
“I look around here; y’all can make it happen,” George said with a smile. “Y’all are doing really well around here. It’s a drop in the bucket.”
Allen was asked if the guarantee would help pay for improvements planned at Hale Stadium including the installation of artificial turf and throughout the football program.
“We continue to make investments not only in our football program but holistically in our student-athlete development programs and in all of our facilities; to advance our programs we know that we need support,” Allen said. “This game guarantee is something that will be special but we’re also getting private funding. People in our big blue community are really buying into what we’re doing.”
Other FBS opponents TSU has faced include Middle Tennessee State (2019), Vanderbilt (2018 and 2016), Georgia State (2017) and Air Force (2011). The Tigers only win came over Georgia State 17-10.