Instead of paying a Football Championship Subdivision school hundreds of thousands of dollars to visit Muncie, Ball State University will play a home-and-home series with FCS-member Illinois State University beginning in 2013.
Ball State will visit Illinois State on Aug. 29, 2013 to open the season and will host the return game Aug. 30, 2014. Athletics director Tom Collins said the series was good for Ball State.
"We were looking for as many home-and-home series to balance our schedule," Collins said. "It's not that far of a trip. It's a bus ride over there and it helps us with our schedule."
The game will be the first time Ball State has visited an FCS school since 1991, when it defeated Indiana State University 14-10.
Collins didn't see a problem with visiting an FCS school.
"It happens all the time," he said.
However, according to the NCAA, no FBS school has played at an FCS school since Oct. 2, 2004 when Louisiana-Lafayette played Florida International University.
Collins acknowledged he hadn't seen any statistics about interdivisional games.
A big advantage of the series for Ball State is the type of contract signed between the two schools, Collins said. No money will be exchanged, instead each school will simply keep the revenue from their home game.
"Ball State isn't having to write a check they often have to write," Illinois State athletic director Sheahon Zenger said. "We're not giving up a home game, so it worked for both of us."
Collins is also happy about the deal.
"I think it's kind of a unique way to do it," he said. "I looked at travel costs and it's not that difficult of a travel time. It's really only the expense of the hotel. I thought that it was a good opportunity to keep the gate."
Collins said it was Zenger's idea not to exchange money. Zenger said it was a mutual agreement that got the deal done.
"It was more a result of two institutions in close proximity, being creative," Zenger said. "Both schools can benefit logistically and financially."
Ball State and Illinois State have played 16 times before, but not since 1993. The Cardinals hold an 11-5 lead in the all-time series.
Zenger is hopeful that the two schools can establish more of a relationship in all sports.
"Ball State is a quality institution with good proximity," he said. "It's certainly one that we would view as a good opponent in any sport."