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The UK versus IU basketball series will be discontinued next season, Indiana Vice President and Athletic Director Fred Glass annnounced Thursday.
On the heels of last season’s dramatic last-second win by the Hoosiers at Assembly Hall, UK head coach John Calipari wanted to move the rivalry to a neutral site.
“John (Calipari) — I don’t think he was really thrilled about going back to Bloomington, and wanted to go back to neutral-neutral,” UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart said.
IU head coach Tom Crean and the administration wanted to keep the game on campus sites.
“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,” Glass said. “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.”
Next year will be the first time since the 1969-70 season that the two storied programs have not faced each other.
“I hate it for the fans, especially with two top-five teams coming back next year, but it wasn’t an unwillingness to play on our part,” Barnhart said. Barnhart said that the neutral sites led to a special environment for college basketball.
There is no reason to believe, however, that talks won’t continue in order to re-introduce the series in the future. However, IU seems set on keeping the annual game on campus.
“We would be open to reviving the series in the future on a home and home basis,” Glass said.
Barnhart also said that the North Carolina series may not be continued on next year’s schedule, saying reports indicating the series was over were “closer to being true than not.”
“We’re working our way through the schedule stuff right now. There’s plenty of folks that would love to play Kentucky and we will figure that out,” Barnhart said.