The Utah Utes and BYU Cougars will not meet on the basketball court next season.
The two schools confirmed Wednesday the cancellation of their scheduled game for the 2016-17 season. According to Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak, it was a safety decision.
“The events that have occurred in our recent games with BYU led me to ask (Utah athletic director Chris) Hill several weeks ago if we could take a cooling off period and put the rivalry on hold,” Krystkowiak said in a prepared statement. “The level of emotions has escalated to the point where there is the potential for serious injury.”
In the closing moments of the rivalry game on Dec. 2, 2015, BYU guard Nick Emery took a swing at Utah guard Brandon Taylor and was subsequently suspended one game.
“I disagree with the decision,” BYU head coach Dave Rose said in a statement about the game’s cancellation. "I know our students, our players, our fans and college basketball fans in the Intermountain area want to see this longstanding rivalry continue.”
Utah’s Hill said in a statement, “Given (Krystkowiak’s) reasons, I agreed to cancel next year’s game. We will revisit resuming the rivalry at some point in the future.”
The series between the rivals dates back to 1909 and has been played at least once every season except in 1944, when the college basketball season was cut short due to World War II.
In February 2005, BYU center Chris Miles kicked Utah center Andrew Bogut in the back after an inadvertent collision. In January 2010, Utah’s Marshall Henderson was ejected for punching BYU’s Jackson Emery, Nick’s brother, in the closing seconds of a game.
Neither event resulted in a call from coaches to take a break from the series.
The move continues a trend for Utah’s basketball program of dumping in-state competition.
Utah no longer plays Weber State in basketball. The last time the Wildcats played the Utes was Dec. 22, 2011, an 80-51 blowout win for Weber State in Ogden. It was Weber State’s largest margin of victory in the series and Utah appears unwilling to play in Ogden again.
“Weber State is willing to play in Salt Lake City,” said Paul Grua, spokesman for Weber State athletics. “Discussions have taken place about future games but nothing has worked out to this point. We’re always willing to play in-state games and that’s an important part of our schedule.”
The Utes have also ceased playing Utah State. The last game in that intrastate series was Nov. 24, 2010 — a 79-62 victory for Utah State.
Krystkowiak took over Utah’s program on April 2, 2011 following a season that saw the Utes go 13-18. Utah then finished 6-25 in Krystkowiak’s first season and the Utes have not faced Weber State or Utah State since.