UK’s Barnhart explains suspension of series

Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart was asked at length about Kentucky’s demands to move the IU-Kentucky series on campus and Indiana’s decision to not play this season. Kyle Tucker of the Louisville Courier-Journal put together the following transcript.

ON INDIANA ANNOUNCING TODAY THE UK-IU SERIES IS OVER BECAUSE OF UK’S DEMANDS: “(Surprised look) I think that we wanted to keep it at a neutral site. It gave us a chance to sort of return to some of the games roots, played in Louisville, in Freedom Hall or Yum Center or something like that. There was not interest on their part to do something like that. I guess they’re putting that out there as a final conversation, so we’ll go on from there, do what we have to do. We’ve been playing the games since the early 1950s, somewhere in that range. It’s been awhile.

“It’s disappointing for that not to continue. I hate it for the fans, especially with two top-five teams coming back next year. That’s disappointing. It wasn’t an unwillingness to play on our part. We wanted to play. We just felt like there were a couple of things that gave us a chance to play that game back in Jefferson County, put it in Louisville and then return it up to Indianapolis or whatever the other neutral site they wanted to. I guess they did not want to do that.”

ON IT SEEMING LIKE THIS IS NEWS TO HIM: “About three weeks ago, that’s not where the conversation was. It’s a little bit of a change.”

ON WHETHER HE WAS CONTACTED BY INDIANA BEFORE THEY MADE THE SERIES ENDING PUBLIC: “Not until today. Just about half an hour ago we got something from them, sort of saying that’s what their thoughts were.”

ON WHETHER HE’S CONFIDENT THE UK-NORTH CAROLINA SERIES WILL CONTINUE: “I wouldn’t say that for sure. Like I said, we’re working our way through it.”

ON ONE NATIONAL WRITER SAYING UK-UNC WAS OVER: “I’d say that right now that’s probably closer to being true than not, but we’ll see. We’re picking up, like I said, we’re working our way through the schedule stuff right now.”

ON WHETHER UK HAD ASSURANCES IT WOULD BE ALLOWED TO PLAY UK-IU AT THE KFC YUM! CENTER: “No. That was not secure at all. The Freedom Hall, I think, we had obviously as much availability in there as we wanted. They were, I know their athletic director Fred Glass, they were wanting to play on campus. That was one of Tom’s wishes; they wanted to play the game on campus. At some point in time, we had a conversation that we were fine with neutral-neutral, and that was going to work out. Then all of a sudden today, there was a little change of heart.”

ON WHY ON-CAMPUS WAS NOT ACCEPTIBLE TO UK: “John (Calipari) wanted to go back to, I don’t think he was really thrilled about going back to Bloomington, to be honest with you. I think he wanted to go back to the neutral-neutral scene, and that’s OK.”

ON WHETHER SOME OF LAST SEASON’S FAN BEHAVIOR AT INDIANA WAS PART OF THAT: “No, I’m not going to go into that. I think just going back to the neutral. The other piece for us—when I came here in 2002, we split that game right down the middle in Freedom Hall. I’m telling you, it was a special scene in college basketball. I don’t know who all was there at that point in time, but I’m telling you it was a special scene. And to be honest with you from a revenue piece, it was as equal if not better doing it that way than if it were on campus. But it’s not a revenue issue for us.

“We can probably be more advantageous going to a neutral site if we played it in the new Lucas Oil field or if we went to Canseco up in Indianapolis. We could probably make it work just fine. But it’s not going to happen, so we’ll just have to regroup and figure out where we go from there. There’s plenty of folks that would love to play Kentucky, and we’ll figure that out. We won’t be without a schedule, I can assure you that.”

ON WHETHER UK-IU MIGHT START UP NEGOTIATIONS AGAIN NEXT YEAR: “We’ll have to take a look at that. We don’t know. We’ll see.”

ON HOW THEY’LL FILL THAT SLOT: “We’ve had good talks about the schedule and where we are. We had 20 home games this year. We’d like to be in that same zone every year. The home schedule is very, very important. Our fans pay a lot of their discretionary money to come to Rupp Arena and to be a part of that. I want to make sure they’ve got a good schedule to be able to walk into Rupp Arena and see.

“At the same time we’re creating some very good neutral-site games. Obviously, we’ve got Duke next year in the Champion’s Classic. I think that’s in Atlanta, so we’re going down there. We’ll be a part of some kind of an exempt deal as we always are. We’re always a part of one of those. So we’ll fill those holes and figure out what we want to do. We’ve got some time. We’re not in a hurry mode. Usually by the end of June or early July, we get this thing finished up. So we should be OK.”

ON WHAT HE’D SAY TO FANS WHO’D RATHER CAVE TO IU AND PLAY THE SERIES THAN NOT HAVE IT: “That’s their thoughts, and I appreciate that. It wasn’t that we didn’t want to play the game. We wanted to play the game, but we wanted to play at a neutral site and just go that route. I’d say the fans that have participated in that game at Freedom Hall for years saw how much fun it was. I can remember … the first time I went in there and that thing was divided down the middle, it was one of the more electric scenes I’ve ever been around.

“Now we went on-campus, and it was nice, but having said that, IU every other year only 100 of our fans get in there. We get 100 tickets – 50 behind the bench and 50 up top. So a lot of our fans are getting left out. In the alternate years, our fans are getting locked out of that game. I would’ve at least liked to have the opportunity to have half our fans every year be in that venue and have a chance to go to the game.”


  1. Soooo let me get this straight.. The next game in the series would have been played at Rupp, correct? Sounds like Cheatapari is afraid of losing that home winning streak. I don’t blame him either. IU would have wiped the floor with Kentucky this season.

  2. Cal wants no part of Bloomington! The uk game was a nice diversion, but IU does not need the game. SEC is a weak basketball conf and uk needs to play power conferences for recruiting.

  3. You have to think of this from the Indiana perspective on why we wouldn’t budge from playing this game on campus. We are looking to have a marquee game in Assembly Hall every year. Every other year, it is the ACC/Big 10 Challenge. The opposite years were supposed to be IU vs. KY. Now it will be Kansas vs IU. I’m glad Glass didn’t back off from this.

    Kentucky now is going to lose the IU series and the UNC series. Glad to hear Calipari is getting what he wants when he said he wanted to drop big games. The mighty SEC conference schedule will make up for it I’m sure…

  4. Oh and I have to say this. Most of the Kentucky fans were okay in Atlanta, but there were some that were very disrespectful to the IU fans at the dome especially when the game was over (cursing, middle fingers, etc). So their fans aren’t these perfect angels either when it comes to sportsmanship. They are sore winners. They are sore and whiny losers too.

  5. I do wonder if it has something to do with UK’s wanting to protect their home winning streak…. But from my point of view who cares? Just play them, keep the games going one way or another. Ive been to two of the Louisvile and two of the Indy games when the game was at the Hoosier dome…. UK A.D. was right about this the place was electric! Awesome atmosphere split down the half court line. Red and blue…. On the other hand I went to the IU UK game on Dec 10 and it was off the charts so either way the game is great… So lets play

  6. I noticed KY’s AD admitting that this was because Cal just didn’t want to play in Bloomington anymore. Actually even THAT is a lie – he didn’t want his a** beat in front of the mulletted kinfolk next year. Of course, he also didn’t want to lose in B’ton the following year either. I have a little perspective for the KY fans – if we were to play in Bloomington again in ’13, I can guarantee you that there would be no floor-rushing or excessive celebration. By then, KY will have vacated all of Cal’s “wins” and they’ll be putting 12 walk-on trailer trash volunteers on the floor. What would be the fun in beating them?

  7. If the choice is between not playing at all or playing on a neutral court then they should play on a neutral court. The two AD’s or Glass and Calapari are in pissing contest not wanting to look weak by giving into the others demands and the fans are paying the price for not seeing a great rivalry. I prefer the games be played on campus as well but it was also cool to see a packed house at Indy and L’ville with one side blue and the other red. It’s just not worth sacrificing the series.

  8. Who cares about Kentucky? Can anyone name five people who graduated from there who have had a positive impact on the world? Ten years from now 90% of Calipari’s one and done boys will be out of the NBA ,broke and on welfare because they didn’t bother to get an education.Who does that help besides Cal the used car salesman?

  9. Gary Parrish on spells it out clearly as to why Calipari doesn’t want IU or any tough non conference opponent in a home-and-home series. This isn’t a UK thing because Cal did the same thing at Memphis. From a logic perspective Cal is right but it does take away from the spirit of college athletics and rivalries.

  10. Doncha just love it when fans from another team troll your board while calling YOU a loser?

    Too bad those in-breds don’t know the meaning of irony….

  11. I support our AD and coach 100%. This is a game and activity for the students first.
    I loved the series on campus as a student, and appreciated more as a parent.

    uk and there coach can take a hike. We should find somebody classy to play.

    Good riddance. If there is any justice in the world we will get another tourney crack at this bunch.

    Final point…”two top five teams coming back”???
    Really? Did somebody come back down there that I missed?

  12. Barnhart seems like a wussy little accountant, not a college AD. His whining comments paint the picture of a small dog on a leash, which is being held, and occasionally yanked by Calipari. His comment about KY fans only getting 100 tickets every other year was just classic. Well, the same goes for IU every other year. What a moron. He implies that he believes KY fans are entitled to more tickets for every game, because, well, they’re Kentucky. Give me a break, these people are just mercenaries trying to maximize their profit.

    Kentucky, and especially Calipari, are sounding very, very arrogant. They think they can replace the IU rivalry game with just any other school, as if it does not matter who they play. Wow!

    I think IU dirties its hands when we shake on a deal with these people. Good riddance. I long for the day when their corrupt program bites them in the butt and they are humiliated. Oh wait, I forgot. It’s impossible to humiliate people that have no shame.

  13. IU does not benefit by giving UK a stage in the heart of Indiana to showcase themselves to potential recruits.

  14. Actual you UK troll, IU will play Kentucky in Rupp, a far more hostile venue than Lucas Oil Stadium. It is UK that is far too chicken to come to Bloomington.

  15. I only think this is a big deal if we didn’t have a back-up plan… but clearly we do. Kansas is just as powerful a draw as UK and L’ville will actually start the season ranked higher than UK. Both teams will also be better for our RPI on an annual basis because they play in power conferences and not the SEC.

    Bring on Kansas. They are a far more respectable opponent with a classy coach and knowledgable fans.

    Bring on Louisville. They are every bit the rival of IU that UK is just with half the slimy feeling after the game.

    Cal is dong an awfully nice job of isolating himself from his peers… First Pitino and now Crean.

  16. I still don’t think there is a game in all college basketball that brings the kind of national attention of IU vs. UK. I doubt there was a higher viewership rating for any other game in this year’s tournament than our battle in Atlanta.

    I love any IU game but I break out extra beers for Hoosiers vs. Wildcats.

    Egos got in the way. Should not have not allowed Calipari to dictate the interruption of the series on any terms. He will not be coaching there for much longer. He simply didn’t like the idea of getting shellacked by Indiana next year. Wrong decision.

  17. I think you nailed it. Kaintuck would have absorbed a beating on the floor where they only play Austin Peay and that pathetic bunch of bait and tackle shops they call the SEC.

    He just tucked in his tail and ran. The neutral site offering was just a bone he threw to his lackey AD.

    If I was an Indiana recruit I’d scratch Kaintuck off my list. Let them get their players from Kaintuck high schools.


  18. I hate to say it, but both sides are liars in this instance. If you “really” want to play against the other team, then a workable compromise is OBVIOUS! You sign a 4 year deal with 2 alternating “neutral” sites for 2012 and 2013 and 2 alternating “home” games for 2014 and 2015. That gives you 4 years of great rivalry basketball and everyone “wins”. However, if you are lying about “really” wanting to play each other, then none of the expensive suits making hundreds of thousands of dollars can “imagine” this simple compromise!

  19. Obvious point BeatPurdue, but really well-stated. Both sides are always spinning in these circumstances.

  20. I think Duke – NC is probably a bigger game than IU – KY.

    KY recruits choose KY because they get paid, they don’t have to go to class, and it’s kind of a year-long orientation for the NBA. They are not the same time of young people we want to recruit to IU. We want student athletes.

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