BLOOMINGTON, IN - DECEMBER 10: John Calipari the head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats gives instructions to his team ball during the game against the Indiana Hoosiers at Assembly Hall on December 10, 2011 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
While it appeared that the Indiana-Kentucky series was dead when the schools announced their impasse on May 3, but it should be no surprise to anyone who is familiar with IU athletic director Fred Glass's background that the deal-maker continued to negotiate with Kentucky even after the negotiation had supposedly ended. Dustin Dopirak of the Herald-Times submitted a document request to IU for all correspondence and other documents related to the negotiation, and click over to see what he found. (While the letter was produced to the H-T because of an Open Records request, it pretty transparently was written for public consumption. I wonder if Glass went so far as to solicit the Open Records request?)
Here's a quick rundown:
On May 10, via telephone, Glass proposed to Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart a four-year contract that would begin with two consecutive neutral site games at Lucas Oil Stadium in 2012 and 2013 and would continue with a game at Rupp Arena in 2013 and at Assembly Hall in 2014.
On May 21, Barnhart informed Glass that UK had scheduled a game with the University of Portland for Decmeber 8, which had been the contemplated date for an IU-UK game. IU offered to pay half of Kentucky's $100,000 buyout obligation to Portland. IU also offered to shuffle its schedule to play the game on December 22.
On May 23, UK coach John Calipari wrote a blog post outlining UK's scheduling aspirations, including the desire to play at least two games a year in football stadiums, none of which involved IU. Glass interpreted the post as an indication that IU's offer was or would be rejected.
Shortly thereafter, a UK associate AD confirmed to Fred Glass that UK would not be committing to any contracts that were for more than two years.
It's tough to imagine a better compromise than what Fred Glass proposed. For the next two years, Calipari would have had his precious neutral site games in a cavernous football stadium. For the two years thereafter, the games would have returned to the campuses, beginning with UK's campus. As Glass pointed out in his letter, this guarantees that every IU and UK student who stays for four years would see a home game in what used to be regarded as an important game to both schools and to college basketball. This proposal is the literal midpoint between IU's preference (home-and-home every year) and UK's preference (neutral courts every year). Either Kentucky a) was unwilling to commit to a four-year extension of a series that had been played for 43 consecutive seasons; or b) used that as an excuse because of the desire to avoid home-and-home series.
Whatever the honest reason, it's pretty obvious that IU-UK is over until John Calipari moves on. And really, that's fine. Kentucky can have its "non-traditional" program and its coach who has such little respect for the traditions of college basketball generally and of Kentucky specifically (on the latter point, I guess that's nice--it means John Calipari and I have something in common!). IU's program is in a good place, and IU fans now can be assured that the main reason this series isn't continuing is because John Calipari doesn't want it to continue.
I think Bob Knight said it best in A Season on the Brink, when Kentucky broadcaster Cawood Ledford said to Knight, "these games are special, aren't they?" Knight (who was particularly agitated because Steve Alford was suspended for that game because he posed, for free, for a charity calendar produced by an IU sorority): "You know, Cawood, with all the crap that has gone on down here [at Kentucky] over the years with recruiting and all, these games are not nearly as special to me as you might think." I certainly wouldn't argue that IU-UK games weren't special. Last year's game in Bloomington provided what may have been the greatest regular season moment in the history of IU basketball. But I think I know what Knight means. IU-UK was never a rivalry imbued with mutual respect and admiration. It was a grudge match between enemies. Good riddance.
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