Utah cancels basketball series with BYU, citing player safety

Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak has decided to cancel the series against BYU due to player safety.

The BYU and Utah basketball series will be ending a year earlier than expected with the 2016 game being canceled. The final year of the contract was to be played at the Marriott Center in Provo, but University of Utah decided to cancel the series. This series has been played 257 times with BYU leading the series 129-128 games. Outside of World War II in 1944, this game has been played every year.

Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak is standing behind player safety as for the reason to cancel this series. He is referring to Nick Emery taking a swipe at Utah’s Brandon Taylor earlier this year.

“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 in a release by the school. “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 Rose know our intentions a few days after our game (on Dec. 2).”

Athletic director Chris Hill also commented on backing up on ending this series early.

“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 same release. “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.”

Of course BYU head coach Dave Rose is not happy with this decision, and he has been a part of this rivalry for 18 years as an assistant and head coach with the Cougars.

“I disagree with the decision,” Rose said in a statement from BYU. “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 did reach out to Krystkowiak to at the very least finish out the final year of this contract, but that was unsuccessful.

“I was very surprised. Shocked, actually,” Rose said during media availability on Wednesday. “I’ve been doing this for 32 years in high school and junior college, now at the Division I level, and we’ve had hundreds of agreements on games. We’ve had verbal agreements, handshake agreements, and written contracts.

“This is the first time that I’ve had one not fully executed. I was surprised.”

Rose was choosing his words carefully during the media session and muttered under his breath about being careful of what he says.

This will cost Utah a bit of money since they are backing out of the final year of the contract, they will owe BYU $80,000. If that amount is not going to deter them from backing out of this deal any future deal will need to have a much stiffer penalty. “We’d put the game at the Marriott Center and have a much larger buy out since it seems like they have plenty of resources,” Rose said.

All being said, canceling this game over something not overly physical is ridiculous and to bring this back full circle when former Ute Marshall Henderson punched Jackson Emery back in 2010. Greg Wrubell tweeted out quotes form Rose and former Utah coach Jim Boylen.

The overwhelming majority place blame on Utah for being petty and canceling this serious, and it is a shame as this is one of the top rivalries in the country. Now, the future is very much up in the air as to when these two schools will meet in the regular season on the hardwood.

Below are Rose’s comments after Wednesday’s media availability where he mostly talks about this cancellation.


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