One week after the announcement that the rivalry between Indiana and Kentucky will go on hiatus for the foreseeable future, the Hoosiers apparently made a failed last-ditch effort to reach a compromise to preserve the series.
Kentucky rejected a May 10 proposal from Indiana suggesting two years of neutral-court games and two years of games on campus sites, according to a letter from Indiana athletic director Fred Glass to Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart. The Bloomington Herald-Leader obtained the letter Wednesday via a public records request.
"Indiana was willing to reach out and propose a compromise to play series' games on a neutral court so it could facilitate a game in Bloomington (and Lexington) during the normal four-year cycle of a college student," Glass wrote. "Unfortunately Kentucky's refusal to consider anything other than a two-year neutral site only contract based on your new 'non-traditional' scheduling philosophy has doomed a series that should be bigger than that."
What this latest revelation suggests is the rivalry is more important to Indiana than it is to Kentucky at this point. Both traditional powers will survive and even thrive without facing each other on an annual basis, but Indiana was far more willing to compromise than their counterparts.
Indiana offered to play half the games on a neutral court and to rearrange its schedule or even pay to cancel a previously planned game on Kentucky's slate to make sure next year's game could be played. Kentucky, however, refused to budge, insisting it would agree on nothing besides two years of neutral-site games.
"We currently do not have any agreements with more than two years remaining and would like to maintain the current flexibility of our future scheduling," Barnhart responded via a statement Wednesday. "If we entered into a four-year deal with Indiana, including the last two years at campus sites, not only would that alter our flexibility but it would also mean that we would have to end our home-and-home series with Louisville in order to keep our nonconference road schedule balanced. We are not interested in doing that."
The unfortunate takeaway from this public sniping is that it makes it much more unlikely the two sides reach a resolution in the near future.
Forget salvaging next year's game. That's clearly a lost cause at this point. This series could be on hiatus for years barring a leadership change on either side.
The worst part is the timing could not be worse.
At a time when conference realignment is already robbing college basketball of some of its premier rivalries, it's a blow to the health of the sport when two of its top programs can't figure out a way to compromise. Kentucky and Indiana will be two of the top programs in the nation the next few years, so it's sad to see a potential showcase game revered by fans of both sides be discarded so carelessly.