Kentucky coach John Calipari does not appear interested in moving the Wildcats’ scheduled game at Louisville to a neutral site this season after Louisville coach Chris Mack suggested the idea publicly this week. Mack’s reasoning for proposing a neutral site game stems from the fact that there is likely to be limited attendance at games this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Chris and I have talked and he expressed his concerns,” Calipari said in a statement to the Louisville Courier-Journal. “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.
Neither team has released their schedule yet as the fate of nonconference college basketball remains unclear following the NCAA Division I Council’s vote last week to allow the season to begin on Nov. 25. Kentucky and Louisville have played every season since 1983, typically alternating between each other’s home arenas each year. But Mack explained to John Fanta this week why he thinks a neutral site game should be in order this season.
“Where is the equity coming of Kentucky coming here in front of no fans and then having to go back to Rupp Arena in front of 21,000 fans?” Mack told Fanta. “But I recognize and we recognize, man, the best rivalry — I know I’m biased — in all of college basketball. If there’s somehow we could do this at a neutral site, again, that’s without talking to Kentucky and what their scheduling holds.”
As Calipari noted, he and Mack have now discussed the series, but Calipari’s statement suggests there’s been little progress toward making an agreement in line with Mack’s wishes.
“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. “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.”