BYU will once again play the University of Utah in basketball beginning in 2017 the Utes announced in a press release Thursday.
“(BYU athletics director) Tom Holmoe and I have agreed to a game in Provo in November or December of 2017,” said Chris Hill, Utah athletic director, in a press release. “We are in the process of formulating plans for the future with BYU. We are also looking at future match-ups with other in-state schools.”
News of the revival of the BYU vs. Utah basketball game came following the Utes announcing two new opponents for the 2016–17 season: Butler on Nov. 28, 2016, in Salt Lake City and Xavier in Cincinnati on Dec. 10. One of those teams replaces the scheduled BYU game.
BYU fans were livid when Utah basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak phoned Rose in January and told him Utah wouldn’t be honoring its contracted game for the 2016–17 season. At the time Krystkowiak sited concern for the safety of his players as the reason for cancelling the annual rivalry game.
“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,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said in a statement in January. “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 Rose know our intentions a few days after our game (on Dec. 2).”
That safety concern started a snarky hashtag amongst BYU fans — #safetyfirst — which even spread to the BYU student section during basketball games.
The game cancellation makes it the first year the BYU-Utah basketball teams won’t play since 1944, which only didn’t happen because of World War II. For breaking the contract, Utah has to pay a guarantee fee of $80,000 to BYU.
“The money can’t replace the game,” said BYU coach Dave Rose in January.
However, the two schools have reconciled and the BYU-Utah rivalry can remain alive — except, of course, for this one year that the schools randomly didn’t play.