SBD/May 4, 2012/Colleges

College Basketball Loses Marquee Matchup As Indiana, Kentucky End Annual Meeting

Indiana and Kentucky have played a regular season game every year since '69
The Indiana-Kentucky regular-season men’s basketball series “is over for the foreseeable future because neither school could agree on where to play the series,” according to Andy Katz of ESPN.com. IU “wanted the series to continue in a home-and-home setup,” while UK “wanted to move back to neutral-site games and offered to play the series at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.” IU AD Fred Glass said, "In the final analysis, we want our student-athletes, our overall student body and our season-ticket holders to enjoy this series at Assembly Hall." UK AD Mitch Barnhart said that the decision was “a change from previous discussions with Indiana officials.” Barnhart: "I guess they're putting that out there as a final conversation, so we'll go on from there, do what we have to do.” Katz noted Glass “kept some hope alive by acknowledging the series could be revived if Kentucky is willing to play games on campus” (ESPN.com, 5/3). The AP’s Michael Marot reported there is a belief that the schools “could make more money by playing in larger, off-campus arenas, but Barnhart argued that neutral sites would take the series back to its original roots.” IU believes moving games to neutral sites “won't provide the same atmosphere and that fans would be better served by watching the games in two of college basketball's highest-profile venues -- Rupp Arena in Lexington and Assembly Hall in Bloomington.” The schools have met during the regular season “every year since 1969, with all but one of those games played in December” (AP, 5/3). Meanwhile, in Lexington, Jerry Tipton reports the Univ. of North Carolina also “announced their series with Kentucky would not continue next season.” UNC Senior Associate AD Larry Gallo said that UK “did not want to continue the current series, which began in the 2000-01 season.” Gallo “expressed the hope that not staging a UK-UNC game in 2012-13 would mark only a ‘one-year hiatus’ in an on-again, off-again high-caliber rivalry” (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 5/4).

A HIT TO THE ENTIRE SPORT: ESPN.com’s Eamonn Brennan wrote it “doesn't really matter whom you wish to blame, because the result is twofold.” Brennan: “We lose one of the great nonconference rivalries in the sport. ... We lose what could very well be the biggest nonconference matchup of the 2012-13 season.” The game “hasn't always been a marquee event in the past decade, but both programs are back at the top of the heap, and this is as marquee as they come right now.” Brennan: “College basketball fans are being robbed” (ESPN.com, 5/3). In Indianapolis, Terry Hutchens writes under the header, “IU, Kentucky Commit Turnover By Dropping Basketball Matchup.” Hutchens writes “everyone lost.” College basketball “lost a marquee matchup for December that could have pitted two of the top five teams in the nation.” But there “is still time” for Glass and Barnhart “to take a step back and listen to the message their respective fan bases are likely to convey” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/4). In Louisville, Eric Crawford writes, “Compromise, people. Play a couple of years at neutral sites with a 50-50 split, then a couple on campus” (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 5/4). SI.com’s Andy Glockner writes, “It doesn’t really matter who’s to blame ... because, in a vacuum, each program should operate in what it believes to be its own best interests. At some point, though, people are going to have to start taking a hard and collective look at the good of the game at large, and petty me-first schedule conflicts like this are a big part of the problem” (SI.com, 5/4).

TWITTER REAX: ESPN’s Mike Greenberg wrote on his Twitter account, "Games like Indiana/Kentucky belong to fans,who pre-date and will outlast those making the decisions.This is a disgrace." Former UK G Rex Chapman wrote, "Indiana & Kentucky ended their series because they couldn't agree on game sites? Can't wait to hear who was being really ridiculous." ESPN's Dick Vitale wrote, "Calipari & Crean owe it to their fans to make it happen." Sirius XM's Holden Kushner wrote, "Nice job NCAA basketball. First Kansas/Missouri goes away and now Indiana/Kentucky call the rivalry quits. What's next to go? Duke/UNC?"
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