Mississippi State's 2013 football game against Mississippi Valley State has been canceled due to MVSU's failure to meet NCAA-mandated financial aid guidelines.
The teams were scheduled to meet in the season opener on Aug. 31, 2013, in Starkville. MSU athletics director Scott Stricklin said he has a "pretty good idea what we're doing to replace them but aren't ready to announce."
The game had to be canceled because playing Valley would not count toward bowl eligibility for MSU. Normally, Division I-A teams can have one game versus a I-AA foe count toward bowl eligibility. But for that to happen, the I-AA program must average 90 percent of the permissible maximum number of grants-in-aid in football over a rolling two-year period. Valley does not meet the requirement.
MSU became aware of the issue last fall and sought a waiver from the NCAA to have the game count toward bowl eligibility, but that waiver was denied several months ago.
Without the game, Valley loses a payout of $350,000.
Stricklin said finding a replacement game isn't too difficult when it involves I-AA programs.
"We've had a number of schools interested in talking to us," he said.
MSU has made a concerted effort in recent years to play in-state SWAC schools, like Jackson State (2009, 2012) and Alcorn State (2010). When I asked Stricklin whether the replacement team would be one of those, he said, "I'd like to make sure to keep FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) in-state schools prevalent on our schedule. It helps them, and they bring a bigger crowd than most FCS schools do, and that in turn markets our university to other people in the state."
The rest of MSU's 2013 non-conference schedule: Sept. 7 at UAB, Sept. 21 vs. Troy, Oct. 12 vs. Bowling Green.