Utah backs out of 2016-17 men’s basketball game with BYU

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Ari Davis
BYU’s Kyle Collinsworth and Chase Fischer defend Utah guard Brandon Taylor earlier this season. BYU and Utah will not play in 2016. (Ari Davis)

The BYU athletic department announced on Wednesday that the BYU and Utah men’s basketball teams will not play each other in 2016-17.

Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak informed BYU head coach Dave Rose of the change.

“I disagree with the decision,” Rose said in a press release. “I know our students, our players, our fans and college basketball fans in the intermountain area want to see this long-standing rivalry continue.”

Rose addressed members of the media later in the day following practice. He is disappointed in the broken contract because he was raised to believe “your word is your bond.”

“The money can’t replace the game,” Rose said.

In an official press release from the University of Utah, Krystkowiak expressed concern for player safety.

“The events that have occurred in our recent games with BYU led me to ask Dr. Hill several weeks ago if we could take a cooling off period and put the rivalry on hold,” Krystkowiak said. “The level of emotions has escalated to the point where there is the potential for serious injury. Chris (Hill) said he would support me in cancelling next year’s scheduled game against BYU.”

Rose said he doesn’t see players’ safety as an issue because rivalry games become heated. He is also uneasy about putting together another contract in the future.

University of Utah Athletic Director Chris Hill said that the school would revisit the rivalry “at some point in the future.”

The Cougars and Utes began competing against each other in 1909 and have played every year since then, except for a one-year break in 1944 when college basketball seasons were cut short because of World War II. In 257 games against each other, BYU leads the series 129-128. The first game of the series ended in a brawl, and the intensity and physicality of the rivalry hasn’t let up. Most recently, Utah beat BYU 83-75 earlier this season.

BYU is currently working to fill this game vacancy for next season.

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