CSU’s non-conference schedule to feature a massive guarantee and two MTEs

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Cleveland State will receive a $43,000 guarantee when it takes on national player of the year Caitlin Clark and Iowa on December 16th according to the game’s contract, secured through a public records request fulfilled by CSU.

Though men’s basketball guarantees frequently produce payouts beginning in the upper five figures, the Vikings’ reward for facing the 2023 NCAA finalists in Des Moines represents a substantial windfall in the women’s game. In fact, the contest – which was announced by the Hawkeyes back on May 10th – will likely carry one of the largest guarantees in the country for the coming season. In 2022-23, Cleveland State’s takeaway for traveling to Iowa State was reportedly $30,000, but the number typically settles near $20,000 when a mid-major team visits a power conference opponent. Mid-major teams hosting lower-division schools generally offer a much more modest sum, $5,000 or less.

Holiday MTEs Highlight 2023-24 Non-Conference Schedule

As was the case last season, the Vikings will host a MTE over Thanksgiving weekend, while flying somewhere slightly warmer during the week before Christmas.

Last December, Cleveland State swept Campbell and Lindenwood at the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic, a trip perhaps most notable for producing Destiny Leo’s 1,000th career point. This time around, immediately after playing Iowa, CSU will travel to the FGCU Holiday Classic in Fort Myers, FL. However, the Vikings will not play the powerhouse Eagles at the event, instead tipping off against Southern Mississippi on Wednesday, December 20th and Drexel on Thursday, December 21st.

Both opponents should present robust challenges after winning 21 games each last season and finishing 180th and 124th, respectively, in the NET rankings. The Dragons, however, must deal with the departure of Keishana Washington, whose 27.7 points per game ranked third in the nation last season, behind only megastars (and past or future CSU opponents) Clark and Maddy Siegrist. Conversely, Southern Miss expects its two leading scorers back, guard Domonique Davis and center Melyia Grayson, so the Golden Eagles are something more of a known quantity right now.

No financial guarantee is associated with the FGCU Holiday Classic, though the Vikings’ hotel rooms will be covered by the hosts.

Four weeks prior to all of that, Cleveland State will again try its hand at running its own showcase. Last season’s inaugural event sported a mouthful of a moniker, the Hampton Inn Cleveland Downtown Viking Invitational, and saw CSU run through Georgia State, Bellarmine, and St. Bonaventure during a frantic four-day stretch.

Not much is settled about this fall’s iteration, which will presumably be named the Viking Invitational once again (either with or without a title sponsor), though it’s simply referred to as “CSU Women’s Basketball Thanksgiving Multiple Team Event” in the contract. As in 2022, it will take place on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of Thanksgiving week (November 22nd, 24th and 25th are the dates), and Chicago State has signed on as one of the visiting teams, though the other two participants remain in “to be named” status. Even the venue for the games is seemingly up in the air, as the Wolstein Center is booked for a Cirque du Soleil tour on all three Viking Invitational dates, including both 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. shows on the 25th.

Filling Out the Slate

Beyond Iowa and the two MTEs, Cleveland State will likely play around five additional non-conference games. One opponent will be Central Michigan, as last season’s Vikings victory in Mt. Pleasant, MI was the opener of a home-and-home series, though no date has been established for the Chippewas’ 2023-24 return trip.

Another opponent might be Niagara – but then again, it might not be. Seven months ago, of course, a scheduled game at NU’s Gallagher Center was obliterated by a mid-November winter storm in western New York that dropped more than 80 (that’s eight-zero) inches of snow in some locations. Attempts to reschedule the contest were unsuccessful, and that likely resulted in the contract’s cancellation under its force majeure clause. It is worth noting, though, that things were originally set up as a home-and-home arrangement that included a 2023-24 visit to Cleveland by the Purple Eagles.

Whatever the case may be with that, or any other open questions, the answers are likely only a few weeks away. CSU announced last season’s full non-conference schedule on August 4, 2022 and the Horizon League’s conference dates followed just 13 days later.

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