One of USI’s oldest traditions is taking a backseat this year.
For the first time in over 35 years, USI will not play Kentucky Wesleyan in the 2014-15 men’s basketball season.
USI’s basketball schedule was released Thursday missing a space for its usual game against the Panthers. The two teams have played each other up to four times per season since 1976. Although USI has won the last four games, Kentucky Wesleyan leads the all-time series 49-40.
When Kentucky Wesleyan joined the G-MAC league after the 2012-13 season, finding space for a game with the team has proven to be difficult.
“We knew that when they changed leagues this wasn’t going to be easy,” USI Men’s Basketball Coach Rodney Watson said.
Of the eight non-conference games both teams are allowed to schedule, one is reserved for the Bill Jergins classic held at USI and another is reserved for the Bellarmine classic that USI will attend, which leaves USI with only six non-conference games to schedule.
In order to keep the rivalry in place, Watson suggested the two teams play when a large fan base on both sides could attend.
“I suggested that in order to maintain the rivalry, the game must be played on a day when both teams can travel, like a Saturday,” Watson said. “The first two Saturdays in December didn’t work for either of us and the only opening was in late December, when all of the students will be gone for Christmas break.”
Playing a rivalry game in November was out of the question for Watson.
“Rivalries take place when basketball season is in full swing, like January, February, March,” Watson said.
Though there is not a time or place for a USI and Kentucky Wesleyan game this season, Watson hopes to pick up the rivalry in the future.
“Maybe not playing each other will boost the rivalry,” Watson said. “Maybe we can figure something out down the road.”
USI will start its schedule on Nov. 8, with an exhibition game at the University of Dayton and first regular season game at home against Davis & Elkins College. USI will play eight games — six at home — before the GLVC season starts Jan. 2, at home against William Jewell.