The ugly brawl in the final seconds of last year's Cincinnati-Xavier game won't force the Crosstown Shootout to take a hiatus, but it has led to a change of venue.
For at least the next two seasons, the site of the game will be off campus at the U.S. Bank Arena in downtown Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported Tuesday. Both sides will reevaluate the behavior of the players and fans after that two-year trial period and decide whether the series should continue.
The future of the Crosstown Shootout had been in doubt since last year's Dec. 10 matchup when players from both sides embarrassed themselves with their actions on the floor and their comments afterward.
Four players from both sides were suspended including Cincinnati's Yancy Gates, who missed six games as a result of his right cross that bloodied an unsuspecting Kenny Frease. Xavier guards Mark Lyons and Tu Holloway both received two-game suspensions in part for failing to express remorse in their postgame news conferences.
It's good news both for the city of Cincinnati and college basketball as a whole that school officials didn't overreact and cancel the series because of one hot-headed incident. The brawl was a black mark for both programs, but an isolated incident shouldn't terminate one of the most cherished non-conference rivalries in the sport.
While moving the game to a neutral site will drain some of the atmosphere from the matchup and make it more difficult for students to attend, it's an acceptable temporary compromise under the circumstances.
Putting the game at a neutral site may not greatly reduce the likelihood of fan violence or a fight among players, but it allows school administrators to save face by giving the appearance they took some kind of action. They no doubt did not want to keep the rivalry as is out of fear of backlash if another incident marred next season's game.
Hopefully in two years, the wounds from the brawl will have healed sufficiently that the game can return to alternating between the two on-campus sites as it had done since 1989. A neutral site isn't the ideal solution, but it beats not playing the game at all.