MAC may subsidize NIU trip to Miami

The Mid-American Conference will consider guaranteeing that Northern Illinois will not lose when the Huskies play Florida State in the Discover Orange Bowl.

Not on the field, but in the wallet.

MAC commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher told ESPN on Monday that he will present to the presidents of the conference a proposal to subsidize NIU's trip to Miami for the Jan. 1 bowl game.

"Northern Illinois will not be left on the hook like other programs have been," Steinbrecher said. "We've always discussed what we would do when we came to this point and it was clear that the opinion was we'd subsidize the school going so that this could be a conference celebration."

Steinbrecher said that the five conferences that do not automatically qualify for the BCS will divide about $24 million -- $12 million to be split equally, and of the other $12 million, the MAC will get about two-thirds.

By giving a disproportionate share to the Huskies, the conference can essentially make up for any shortfalls. A simple majority of the presidents of the 13 MAC schools must agree for Steinbrecher's plan to be put in place, which the commissioner says will not be an issue.

"We will not allow Northern Illinois' trip to a BCS game be a negative in any way," Steinbrecher said. "We will carve out as healthy of a portion from the conference share to cover expenses as necessary."

It's possible that the school might have some trouble selling the 17,500 tickets it is required to buy from the Orange Bowl. In its six home games the school played this season, the team averaged 15,670 per game.

Alumni also will be tempted to buy from secondary ticketing sites instead of paying face value (from $75 to $225) from the school's allotment. Currently, there are hundreds of tickets available for less than $20 on resale sites such as StubHub.

"We will set up a system so that every ticket Northern Illinois has to sell will be covered," Steinbrecher said.

Some conferences, such as the Big 12, have covered a school's expenses should it play in a BCS game. Others, like the Big East, have not. The Big 12 gave Oklahoma a $1.8 million stipend to cover its costs for playing in the 2011 Fiesta Bowl.

Its Big East opponent, UConn, lost $1.6 million on the game because the conference refused to help on the $2.6 million cost to buy unsold tickets.