CARBONDALE — The Mid-American Conference's move to postpone its fall sports ultimately pulled Coastal Carolina into the University of Kansas' football schedule and pushed SIU out.
Jayhawks athletic director Jeff Long announced during a video call with local media Wednesday that KU would play a non-conference game Sept. 12 against someone other than the Salukis. He did not identify the new opponent, saying the two programs had a verbal agreement but not a signed contract. A source close to KU told The Southern Illinoisan it will be Coastal Carolina, a team the Jayhawks had an existing home-and-home series that was supposed to start in Carolina this fall. The two teams will flip-flop their series, with the Chanticleers of the Sun Belt Conference going to Kansas next month and the Jayhawks going to South Carolina in 2021.
SIU athletic director Liz Jarnigan, reached Wednesday, also said Coastal Carolina will be KU's new opponent. When the MAC postponed their fall sports, eliminating Coastal Carolina's scheduled football game at Eastern Michigan, the Chanticleers asked Kansas to keep them on their schedule.
"In order to play us, one of the things that Kansas had done was eliminate their game against Coastal Carolina, because they were limited to just one home game," Jarnigan said. "When Coastal Carolina lost the MAC game, they came back to Kansas and asked to flip-flop the home-and-home series with them, so, that's what they're doing."
As a member of the Big 12 Conference, Kansas could play only one non-conference game this fall, and had to play it at home. The Sun Belt announced earlier this month it intends to play an eight-game conference schedule this fall. The league is allowing its members to play up to four non-conference games.
The move will cost SIU a $300,000 guarantee, but Jarnigan said she understood.
"We agreed when we entered into this among all this craziness, and we would honor each other and do what was best for our needs. Honestly, that was the best option for them," she said. "They've been very good to us, and we're going to continue to be very good to them, and we will likely schedule them again as a result of this anyway."
SIU is scheduled to play Kansas in 2024 for $500,000. The Salukis have not found an FBS opponent for 2025 yet.
The loss of the Kansas game leaves SIU with one game left on its schedule, a Sept. 19 home game against Southeast Missouri State. Jarnigan said she would begin looking for a new opponent, or two, for this fall. The Salukis and UT Martin pushed their game, which was originally scheduled for Sept. 3, to the 2025 season.
SIU and SEMO are separated by less than 48 miles, but that game might be in peril, too. Multiple reports have Ohio Valley Conference officials meeting Thursday to discuss the fall sports season.
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