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After announcing earlier this month that the heated border rivalry would not continue this season, Indiana re-opened negotiations with Kentucky on May 10 by proposing a compromise that would allow for two years of neutral site games followed by two games on campus sites.
Kentucky rejected that proposal last week, however, according to a letter from Indiana athletic director Fred Glass to Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart. The letter was provided to the Herald-Times pursuant to a public records request asking for all correspondence related to the series.
In the letter, Glass detailed all of the negotiations in the attempt to revive the series since it was publicly declared dead on May 3. Glass said that Indiana had indicated that it would be willing to play at Lucas Oil Stadium in December of 2012 and 2013, “consistent with Coach (John) Calipari’s previous offer to do so.” The series would then be moved to Rupp Arena for the 2014 game and Assembly Hall for the 2015 game. Glass said that was acceptable to Indiana because it would allow the freshman class that arrives next year to see at least one game on campus in their four-year careers.
“We were trying to find something that worked well for everyone,” Glass said by phone. “That was a suggestion that a number of people had written in to me had made. That four-year plan struck me as a fairly good idea. We reached out in the spirit of compromise to save the series and to save the ability for our students to see at least one Indiana-Kentucky game on campus in their tenure.”
Glass said both in the letter and by phone that Indiana tried to make several other concessions to Kentucky to ease some of their logistical concerns. Kentucky had scheduled a game with Portland on Dec. 8 — the second Saturday in December when the IU-Kentucky game is traditionally played. Breaking the contract with Portland required a $100,000 buyout, but Glass said in the letter and by phone that Indiana offered to pay half of that buyout to make it work. The letter also said that Indiana was willing to move this year’s game to Dec. 22 and move a conflicting game the Hoosiers had scheduled to make that possible.
Glass said that he and Barnhart had several phone conversations and that they were involved in a conference call that also included several other administrators in both athletic departments. However, on May 23, Kentucky coach John Calipari made a scheduling related post on his blog that discussed the revival of the Wildcats’ series with North Carolina and his attempts to begin a series at neutral sites with Duke. Glass said he called Barnhart to find out if that meant that negotiations were off. According to the letter, IU assistant athletic director Jayd Grossman received a call from Kentucky executive associate athletics director DeWayne Peevy saying that Kentucky would refuse a contract lasting more than two years.
“In other words,” Glass said in the letter, “we were back to Kentucky’s take it or leave it demand that we play on a neutral court with no opportunities to play on our campuses in front of our students and other season ticket-holders.”
Glass said he was disappointed that the series could not be worked out, though not upset that Calipari and Kentucky are continuing to pursue a “non-traditional” scheduling format.
“I think Coach Calipari is an excellent coach,” Glass said. “… It’s their sovereign right to schedule as they see fit. But we proposed a serious compromise that seemed workable to everyone. We can’t accept a one-sided, take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum that freezes out our students and our season-ticket holders.”
Kentucky’s media relations department did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment.
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