The Gamecocks will make $600,000 for the early season game. The contract was signed last week.
“It is big to get them on the schedule,” JSU athletics director Oval Jaynes said. “Think about that. That’s huge.”
A check of that size certainly will put a dent in the note on the Paul Snow Stadium expansion.
The Gamecocks have never played a team from the Big Ten before in football. Their most recent foray outside the Southeast for a guarantee game came in 2003 at Kansas.
The Gamecocks play at Ole Miss next season, at Florida in 2012 and at Auburn in 2013, although that contract has yet to be signed. The Florida and Auburn games are said to be fetching $500,000 each.
“Supposedly it’s in the mail,” JSU president Bill Meehan said of the Auburn contract. “It’s coming and I think it will.”
The Gamecocks are still looking for a guarantee game in 2011 to fill the void created by Kansas State’s pulling out of an agreement to play.
“We’ve got some possibilities, we just haven’t finalized anything yet,” Jaynes said.
He declined to identify any of the prospects.
Now that Michigan State is secured, the Gamecocks can start looking for a lesser-profile second guarantee game for 2014 and 2013 — years Football Championship Subdivision teams can play 12 games because of the calendar.
The Ohio Valley Conference as a body has long espoused playing a 12-game season, but its desire isn’t widely shared within the subdivision.
Meehan said a renewal with Troy is “somewhere within that time frame,” but wasn’t certain of a date.
“I look forward to playing them again, I think we will,” Meehan said. “That’s great, a great rivalry — all the way from athletics to the band.”
• SPRING JUMP IN GPAS: Ten of the Gamecocks’ 16 sports programs posted team GPAs of 3.0 or higher in the spring semester, with the two highest profile sports — football and men’s basketball — pulling themselves from the bottom of the list.
Overall, the Gamecocks’ athletics program posted a 2.94 GPA for the semester, a four-point improvement from the fall grades. In all, 11 teams — including football and basketball — posted higher GPAs in the spring than the fall.
Volleyball led the way again with a 3.57 mark — a 16-point improvement from its fall grade. Football came in at 2.51 and basketball came in at 2.39.
Men’s golf enjoyed the biggest improvement (54 points to 3.42), while men’s cross country (67 points to 2.32) and women’s basketball had the biggest drops (54 points to 2.47).
The football program recently was recognized for having the most improved academic progress score among OVC teams, while the men’s basketball program recently was informed it would not be subject to third-year historical APR penalties that befell the football program last year.
The NCAA’s full Academic Progress Report is scheduled for release on
• SECONDARY HELP: The Gamecocks beefed their defensive backfield with the arrival of transfer Darian Thomas from Florida Atlantic.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound incoming junior had 16 tackles in nine games last season for the Owls. He made half his hits in the first three games — Nebraska, South Carolina and UL-Monroe.
In 2008, he returned a blocked extra point for two points against North Texas.
His presence is expected to allow the Gamecocks to play more nickel and dime packages than previously accustomed.
Coach Jack Crowe said the Gamecocks were talking with several other transfers, but declined to identify them.