Arkansas State sold the rights on Monday to coach its spring game to a bidder who paid $11,700 on eBay.
The bidder, 25-year-old Silicon Valley entrepreneur Nick Bhardwaj, has no affiliation with the program whatsoever, but thought the idea of immersing himself into the world of big time college football was intriguing.
“I dropped out of San Jose State and didn’t have a chance to enjoy the full college experience,” Bhardwaj told ESPN.com. “Doing this, even for a day, is a way to make up for that.”
Bhardwaj, CEO of a San Francisco based company called Beyond Games, will wear a headset, team gear and make the call on plays for the defending Sun Belt Conference champs in this Friday night’s matchup against themselves.
“I can’t wait to fully engross myself in the process, to see how evaluating real-time data plays a role in exploiting opportunities,” Bhardwaj said. “As a first-time CEO of a company, I also want to learn more about leadership and how Coach Anderson deals with what is in front of him.”
The auction was the brain child of the school’s new football coach Blake Anderson, who came up with the plan to raise money and awareness for the program. Anderson had seen this opportunity auctioned at his previous coaching stops at Southern Mississippi and the University of North Carolina, though the bidding was conducted at a closed booster function instead of online.
“We raised more money here on this than we did at Southern Miss or Carolina,” Anderson said on Monday afternoon, minutes after the bidding had closed.
The money will go to the Red Wolves Foundation, the athletic department’s booster organization that helps fund the program.
“This is a great way for us to raise money to help us function when a line item doesn’t fit, as in needing a new computer or a bus to take us somewhere,” Anderson said.
Anderson said when the bidding went above $10,000 he was “fired up.”
Said Anderson: “We’ll make sure that the person who won this will get the red carpet treatment.”
Arkansas State went 8-5 overall and 5-2 in the Sun Belt in 2013.