University adds TCU series, will recoup $800K

The Gophers will play Texas Christian University in 2014 and 2015.

Nate Gotlieb

The Gophers football team added a quality opponent to its 2014 and 2015 schedules Tuesday, nearly seven months after inciting public scrutiny for backing out of a home-and-home series with North Carolina.

Athletics director Norwood Teague announced Tuesday that the Gophers will play a home-and-home series with Texas Christian University in 2014 and 2015.

“It was time to add a stronger team into the mix for ’14 and ’15,” Teague said.

The addition effectively recoups the $800,000 the Gophers are paying to cancel their North Carolina series in 2013 and 2014. Teague said TCU will pay Minnesota $500,000 for the 2014 game in Texas, but Minnesota won’t have to pay TCU anything to host the Horned Frogs in 2015.

The 2015 TCU game will replace a home game against South Dakota State University, a Football Championship Subdivision school.

The Gophers would have had to pay SDSU $400,000 to play that game. The fee for the Gophers to cancel the game — also $400,000 — was waived because TCU and South Dakota State agreed to play in 2015.

The Gophers canceled the North Carolina series in October, prompting backlash from fans and media. Critics of the decision questioned the strength of the Gophers’ nonconference schedule, which has featured an FCS opponent four years in a row.

TCU went 7-6 last season, its first in the Big 12 Conference, after years of dominating inferior opponents in the Mountain West Conference. The Horned Frogs lost just 10 games from 2007-11 and competed in two Bowl Championship Series bowl games.

Gophers head coach Jerry Kill had previously expressed concern about playing a nonconference BCS opponent early in the team’s rebuilding process. Kill, entering his third season at Minnesota, had advocated for removing North Carolina from the schedule.

Teague said Kill was “on board” with Tuesday’s move.

“On board means he’s with us and ready to go and knows we’re playing the game and is ready to move forward,” Teague said.

The Gophers won’t play a nonconference BCS opponent in 2013. Before Tuesday, the Gophers were the only Big Ten team not to have a BCS opponent on their nonconference schedule for 2014 or 2015.

The 2014 game will fill an empty date on Minnesota’s schedule.