A reason to schedule a game at Hawaii

I keep track of upcoming schedules for college football as they are announced. Recently, I noticed an oddity. UNLV added a game to its 2012 schedule this week, booking a home contest for September 8 against Northern Arizona. It will round out a 13-game schedule for the Rebels. Allowed? Here is what I found out, which jogged my memory a bit. It isn’t just about creating an opportunity to take program officials, coaches, players, and fans to paradise for a week.

The “Hawaii Exemption” is a rule enacted by the NCAA in 1955 that allows Division I football teams to play one more game than the NCAA maximum (currently 12 games), if a team plays at Hawaii. (The rule also allows Hawaii to make that game, or another game, their extra game.) The addition of the 13th game is usually a home game — an opportunity for extra revenue to offset the travel costs to Honolulu. This, in fact, is the original reason that the rule was established (as well as to ensure that Hawaii could be able to schedule a sufficient number of home games). However, teams can also schedule an extra off-week if they desire.

The exemption in the NCAA bylaws includes Alaska and Puerto Rico in addition to Hawaii (Section 17.9.5.2 [k]). I suspect those are not popular choices for Division I schools to invoke the exemption.

Tennessee invoked the rule for the 1975 season, during the time when the maximum number of scheduled games was eleven. That season, the Vols traveled to Honolulu for their 12th scheduled game, winning 28-6. There were four non-conference games at home on the schedule that season — Maryland, North Texas State, Colorado State, and Utah  — with a fifth on the road (UCLA). I don’t know which of those four home NC games was the extra one added due to the Hawaii game. I hope it wasn’t North Texas State — the worst Volunteer loss I personally ever witnessed.

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