Utah and Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak announced last week that they had decided to cancel their yearly game with BYU over safety concerns. Since that time, the Utah administration has received quite a bit of backlash on the decision. However, given that Utah had been on an extended road trip, he had not yet answered questions from the media about the decision.
On Monday, Krystkowiak finally got that chance, and he did so by distributing a statement and answering questions about what made him decide to ask Utah athletic director Chris Hill to cancel the game.
“I would not be doing my job in the description that is given to me for the well-being of our players and our program if I didn’t have reason to pause and concern about the nature of some of the recent games,” Krystkowiak said during the presser.
The statement he released reiterated the safety concerns that he has regarding the current state of the rivalry. He also noted that the patten seems to be “escalating” due to the combination of the emotion of the game along with a lack of remorse.
“Within this matchup exists a highly venomous and toxic environment that fuels irrational behavior and has nothing to do with enhancing relationships or appreciating differences,” Krystkowiak said in the statement. “I feel that this basketball rivalry has a virus in its operating system and it’s time to turn the computer off and reboot it at a later date.”
Krystkowiak also noted that they did not really look into an alternative solution, such as playing the game at a neutral site. They simply decided to go ahead with the cancellation as opposed to trying to find a way to make the game work. Again, Krystkowiak cited the fact that he hasn’t seen any sort of remorse.
“I didn’t think it’s an option, personally,” Krystkowiak said. “Look at the pattern of behavior. What has changed?”
The coach, however did say that there have been previous discussions about potentially creating a tournament for the schools of Utah — including Utah State and Utah Valley, among others — to participate in. In a statement, Utah president David Pershing noted their commitment to creating a healthier environment for the BYU game, and also for playing multiple in-state schools per year.
“Although there will be no basketball game with BYU next year, we are committed to expanding the schedule to include BYU and other state schools, to the extent they desire such games,” Pershing said. “This year, we played both BYU and SUU. In future years, our goal is to again play two in-state schools each year, which will include BYU, (Utah State), (Southern Utah), (Weber State), and (Utah Valley).”
BYU and Utah have played a game in every season but one since 1909, and the only reason they didn’t play in 1944 was due to World War II. The all-time record in the series is currently 129-128 in favor of BYU.
You can read the full statement released by Larry Krystkowiak here, and listen to the full audio of his press conference on ESPN 700.