Louisville and Kentucky are at an impasse over the location of their upcoming rivalry game.
Kentucky coach John Calipari released a statement on Friday saying he only wants to play the Cardinals at the KFC Yum! Center this season, despite Louisville coach Chris Mack recently saying he’d prefer a neutral site.
“Chris and I have talked and he expressed his concerns,” Calipari said in a statement. “While I understand the difficulty and the complications created by the pandemic, we are prepared to come to Louisville to play this season under the previously agreed upon terms, and we fully expect Louisville to honor the agreement with a return game to Rupp Arena next season.”
During an appearance on The Full Court Press podcast on Wednesday, Mack said it would be fairer to move the game to a neutral location since the Cardinals will host in an empty or near-empty arena this year amid the coronavirus pandemic. Louisville will travel next season to Rupp Arena and play in front of a packed house.
When asked if this year’s rivalry game will be played, Mack answered, “I don’t know.”
“Where is the equity of Kentucky coming here in front of no fans and then having to go back to Rupp Arena [in 2021-22] in front of 21,000 fans?” Mack told host John Fanta. “But I recognize and we recognize, man, the best rivalry–I know I’m biased–in all of college basketball. If there was somehow we could do this at a neutral site again, that’s without talking to Kentucky and what their scheduling is.”
Earlier this month, the NCAA announced that its Division I Council set the start date for the 2020–21 college basketball season for Nov. 25. The season was originally set to open on Nov. 10, but the college hoops schedule has faced uncertainty due to the pandemic. Conferences are still working to create their schedules, and no date has been selected for the Kentucky-Louisville game.
Calipari thinks the schools should stick to their plans despite the potential changes in crowd capacity.
“We are contracted to play Notre Dame and a Big 12 opponent for the SEC/Big 12 Challenge in Rupp Arena this season and we are honoring those contracts even if it is with little or no fans,” Calipari said in his statement. “It is no one’s fault we are in a pandemic. We cannot predict the future with this virus, whether that’s this December or next December. My hope is they are not trying to end this series because it is important for this state that we play.”