SALT LAKE CITY — Utah basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak and athletic director Chris Hill have decided playing BYU is not worth the risk.
Krystkowiak, citing safety concerns in the heated rivalry, asked for and received permission from Hill to cancel the annual rivalry game in basketball.
“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 said he would support me in canceling next year’s scheduled game against BYU. I called and let Coach (Dave) Rose know our intentions a few days after our game (on Dec. 2).”
BYU freshman Nick Emery was ejected from that Dec. 2 game after throwing and landing a punch on Utah guard Brandon Taylor.
“Coach Krystkowiak came to me last month and expressed a deep concern about the incidents that have occurred in recent years during our games with BYU,” Hill said. “In the interests of our student-athlete welfare, he requested we cancel the BYU series until further notice. Given his reasons, I agreed to cancel next year’s game. We will revisit resuming the rivalry at some point in the future.”
Hill and the Utes took a two-year hiatus from playing BYU in football, though the two teams met in the recent Royal Purple Las Vegas, with Utah winning 35-28. Though emotions were high in the bowl game, there were no major incidents.
The football rivalry resumes in the fall with the Cougars taking the 49-mile drive to Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The game was scheduled for early December at BYU’s Marriott Center.
“I disagree with the decision,” Rose said in a statement. “I know our students, our players, our fans and college basketball fans in the intermountain area want to see this longstanding rivalry continue.”
Rose told reporters after practice Wednesday that he’d never had an opposing coach cancel a game against one of his teams in the more than 30 years of his career. Rose also said he was disappointed with Krystkowiak’s decision to break his contract, saying “I have been raised where your word is your bond, and we made an agreement. Basically, I try to teach my players every day to say and do what you say you are going to do.”
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