Utah calls off 2016 game with BYU among escalated tensions

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The University of Utah has announced it will break an agreement and not play its 2016 game against BYU in Provo due to escalating tensions in the rivalry, particularly after an ugly incident this year.

The report comes from ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

The decision was made following the most recent meeting, which Utah won 83-75 in Salt Lake City. During the game, BYU freshman guard Nick Emery punched Utah’s Brandon Taylor in the face. Emery was ejected and suspended one game, but that wasn’t enough for Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak.

“The events that have occurred in our recent games with BYU led me to ask (athletic director) Dr. Hill several weeks ago if we could take a cooling off period and put the rivalry on hold,” Krystkowiak said in a statement. “The level of emotions has escalated to the point where there is the potential for serious injury. Chris said he would support me in canceling next year’s scheduled game against BYU. I called and let Coach (Dave) Rose know our intentions a few days after our game (on Dec. 2).”

On the other side of the rivalry, Cougars coach Dave Rose expressed nothing but surprise.

“I was very surprised. Shocked, actually,” Rose added. “I’ve been doing this for 32 years in high school and junior college, now at the Division I level, and we’ve had hundreds of agreements on games. We’ve had verbal agreements, handshake agreements, and written contracts. This is the first time that I’ve had one not fully executed. I was surprised.”

As a result of the cancellation, Utah will pay a guarantee fee of $80,000.

Both teams have played each other every year since 1909 — excluding 1944 due to World War II.

This seems like a bit of an overreaction on Utah’s end. Yes, it’s awful that a BYU player punched a Utah player in the face, but one bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole bunch. Yes, cooling off is needed, but nearly a year is plenty of time to do that. There was zero need to call off the game just because of one incident that got out of hand.

What do you think? Should the game have been canceled? Sound off in the comments section below.

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*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports