BYU administrators responded to the University of Utah’s decision to cancel the 2016–2017 men’s basketball game almost a week after the announcement was made.
“I am disappointed in the University of Utah’s decision to cancel the 2016 basketball game with BYU,” BYU director of athletics Tom Holmoe said in a Monday press release. “As a former player, coach and now administrator, I believe BYU-Utah is one of the great college rivalries in the country. It is bigger than any of the individual participants and should be played every year.”
Both Utah President David W. Pershing and BYU President Kevin J. Worthen have hopes the rivalry game will continue in following years.
“BYU values its long relationship with the University of Utah and our positive collaborations in academics and athletics,” Worthen said. “Like President Pershing, we hope this relationship continues. Our desire is to continue the athletic relationship on an annual basis.”
Worthen said he is appreciative of the plans Pershing has put together and that BYU is working to improve as well.
“We, too, have worked to identify where changes can be made, and we will continue these efforts,” Worthen said. “Our hope is that both schools can work together to achieve our shared goals.”
Also on Monday Utah men’s basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak says his conduct during last month’s heated game against BYU contributed to the decision to cancel the series next season. It’s just the second time that’s happened since 1909.
“The events that have occurred in our recent games with BYU led me to ask Dr. Hill (Utah’s athletic director) 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 canceling next year’s scheduled game against BYU.”
Krystkowiak said during a news conference the rivalry has turned into a “venomous and toxic environment” and he’s concerned for the well-being of the players. BYU guard Nick Emery was ejected from December’s game for punching Utah’s Brandon Taylor.
Krystkowiak says he’s responsible for teaching discipline and self-control.
The coach also lamented a perceived lack of remorse. He said he and Taylor never received apology phone calls, though BYU coach Dave Rose apologized immediately after the game to Krystkowiak. Emery put out a statement in which he apologized after he was suspended for a game the next day.
The University of Utah canceled next year’s basketball game in an out-of-the-blue announcement on Wednesday, Jan. 6. Krystkowiak expressed concern for player safety in the press release.