Indiana and Kentucky have met every year since 1969, but that streak is coming to an end. Simply put, Indiana wants the series to remain a home-and-home game, whereas Kentucky wants it to return to neutral sites.
This is terrible news for all. The two schools have to figure it out. They just have to.
The regular-season matchup was one of the best games of the season, and their Sweet Sixteen meeting was arguably the best game of the tournament.
“While we understand that such neutral site games could be quite lucrative, we think the series should be continued as it is, home and home,” said IU Athletic Director Fred Glass.
“Playing on campus enables our students to attend these marquee games which we believe is a great component of the overall college experience. Playing in the historic venues that are Assembly Hall and Rupp Arena is also a tremendous experience for our student-athletes.”
I’m with Glass’s stance. Keep the game on campus because that’s where it belongs. It belongs to the students, players and fans that show up game after game. There’s truly nothing like having such a high-level rivalry game on campus.
“We have a strong belief that this series should be played on campus and is something that should be beneficial for both teams,” Coach Crean said.
This is very similar to the idea that my high school, North Central, dealt with when they received national television offers. When former Hoosier and now New Orleans Hornets guard Eric Gordon played for the Panthers, they received many offers to play on the national stage. There were money incentives, too. But ESPN insisted that the game be played at a bigger venue, like Hinkle Fieldhouse.
North Central’s athletic director Chuck Jones, like IU’s Glass, wouldn’t have it. He believed to much in the school experience and he passed up thousands of dollars to keep the games on-site. ESPN wanted the Gordon vs. Greg Oden and Mike Conley of Lawrence North matchup so much, that they finally agreed to do that game at North Central. But they weren’t happy, and neither school profited that much. Instead, it was about the experience.
I’ve been to IU games at Assembly Hall for years and I don’t remember more excitement or build-up for a game than the Kentucky game last season. Students began camping out five days before the prime-time meeting. Nor do I remember a game that was so intense and loud, all game long.
“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,” said Glass. “We would be open to reviving the series in the future on a home and home basis.”
This series must continue, no matter where its played. Unfortunately, Kentucky isn’t changing their stance.
These games have created so many magical moments. You think anybody will ever forget the buzzer-beater from last season? No way.
Get it done.
Media reaction following the release:
— Jason McIntyre (@TheBigLead) May 3, 2012
Indiana just announced it will not continue its series with Kentucky. Crean wanted home-and-home. Cal wanted neutral. So here we are. — Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) May 3, 2012
If IU and UK value their loyal and passionate fans so much, shouldn’t they be willing to find a compromise on the home or neutral debate? — Derek Schultz (@Schultz1260) May 3, 2012
— Dan Shulman (@DShulman_ESPN) May 3, 2012
I’m sure logistics and economics figure in at a level we’re not privy to, but its a shame these two schools won’t play each other anymore — Dan Shulman (@DShulman_ESPN) May 3, 2012
Kentucky & Indiana need to sign a long-term deal. Do home-and-home and also throw in a couple of neutral site contests. Whatever, Just play. — Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanCBS) May 3, 2012
I will say this, if rivalries like IU v. UK & Xavier v. Cincinnati, can’t continue that is a darn shame. Shouldn’t be too tough to schedule
— Brian Snow (@BSnowScout) May 3, 2012
Cal knows he has a fan base that’ll show up regardless. Thus, no incentive to give them quality home games. Took same approach at Memphis.
— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) May 3, 2012
If anyone can broker this series between Kentucky and Indiana, it’s World Wide Wes. Gotta get him involved. — Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanCBS) May 3, 2012
Here’s the truth with Cal: He does nothing unless he’s convinced it helps him or his program. Preserving a rivalry doesn’t register.
— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) May 3, 2012
So, Kentucky has now gotten out of the UNC and Indiana series’ within a span of months. As I said, definitely not good for the game.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanCBS) May 3, 2012
While the national media may rip both schools, I applaud IU for holding their ground. No compelling reason for #iubb to move the game.
— Alex Bozich (@insidethehall) May 3, 2012
And the guy who hit the game-winning shot during their December meeting isn’t happy:
So no more uk vs iu series?!?!
— Christian Watford (@IuCwat205) May 3, 2012