Schools battle over

by Michael Dougherty

Although it’s not quite like settling an argument between the NBA players union and the owners, Minnesota men’s athletic director Mark Dienhart has been working with Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke to reschedule last Saturday’s matchup of top 20 teams.
Dienhart said an agreement between the schools must be made by Monday or the Big Ten will step in and make a decision.
“If we can’t reach a mutually agreeable conclusion between now and Monday — and I’m sure we will — then the conference office becomes involved,” Dienhart said, “and they will simply pick what they think is a fair conclusion for the whole thing, presumably from an objective standpoint.”
Representatives from both schools will be at this weekend’s NCAA convention along with staff from the Big Ten, so Dienhart said he is confident an agreement will be reached before the conference has to step in.
One of the roadblocks in the rescheduling effort is the fact that both schools do not want to give the other team the upper hand.
“There is an inherent advantage at being the home team in these discussions,” Dienhart said, “because every time the visiting team proposes something the home team can say they have a facilities conflict.”
Both teams have a bye date, but the two dates do not coincide. So ultimately, one team will probably end up having to play three games in a time period that normally only allows for two.
Dienhart said there is some precedence that could possibly cancel the game, but it isn’t likely to happen.
“My guess is that that is a non-option at this point given the characteristics of the two teams,” Dienhart said about the cancelation option. “It’s real likely that the outcome of this game would have an impact on the seedings for the conference tournament, as well as the conference standings at the end of the year.”
Also at issue is the possibility of some sort of financial compensation to be made to the Gophers for having to make the trip twice.
Dienhart said there is a possibility the conference could provide some financial relief, especially considering added expenses like this are not figured into the athletic department’s budget.
Purdue makes its trip to Williams Arena on either Feb. 23 or 24, depending on television coverage, and speculation has been that the team might try to play a home-and-home series on consecutive days.
However, Purdue plays Penn State the Saturday before, and Michigan State the Saturday after. The Gophers, meanwhile, have an open date on the previous Saturday. Purdue is likely to see that as an advantage for the Gophers.
When Dienhart was asked if there was a possibility of playing a doubleheader at Williams Arena, he snickered, “I’d love to propose that. Coach (Haskins), you’d be okay with that wouldn’t you?”
To which Haskins replied, “Yeah, that would be perfect.”