IOWA CITY — Big Ten officials expect to announce a makeup date for the Iowa-Indiana men’s basketball game sometime Thursday, Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said on his radio show Wednesday night.
“This whole thing will probably be settled by about (Thursday) afternoon,” McCaffery said. “We’re working towards a solution that’s amenable to everybody.
“We’ll probably play them sometime next week.”
It’s assumed the game will take place Feb. 27, the only real workable date between the schools but nothing is official.
“It’s still a work in progress,” said Mark Rudner, the Big Ten’s senior associate commissioner for television administration. “There’s been extra communication and cooperation between all the parties, between Indiana, Iowa, the conference office, ESPN. We’re all working toward a quick and reasonable resolution … we all know we’re dealing with a short season.
“I would prefer not to review or discuss any of the possible solutions until we have one.”
Both Rudner and Indiana Athletics Director Fred Glass said the game likely will take place at Assembly Hall. Tuesday, an ornamental eight-foot metal facing weighing about 50 pounds was dislodged from near the roof and crashed to to the arena’s lower bowl mid-afternoon. Iowa was slated to play at Indiana that night but the game was postponed.
The teams have until Friday afternoon to find an amenable time, date and location to make up the game. If the schools can’t agree, the Big Ten will step in.
“Everything we’re doing is thinking about the game at IU until we’re told it can’t be,” said Rudner, who handles scheduling.
“Conversations are ongoing with Iowa,” Glass said. “We’re confident that we’ll reach a mutually acceptable time and date within the 72-hour window that we have to do so, and we’re confident that game will be here at Assembly Hall.”
Wednesday, engineers have found more loose metal plating at Assembly Hall, but none of the plates were in imminent danger of falling, Glass said. The school held a women’s basketball game at the arena Wednesday night without incident.
“I want to emphasize that there weren’t any plates that they thought were in any kind of short term danger of popping off, but there were some that were loose,” Glass said at a news conference.
A massive amount of snow and ice built up on the roof’s northern corner, which caused the facing to fall. It crushed several seats.
Indiana’s home game against Ohio State on March 2 will go on as scheduled. Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta is attending the annual Hawkeye Cruise and is unavailable for comment.
The situation creates a scheduling quandary for both schools. Only 19 days remain until the end of the season, and the only workable date appears to be Feb. 27. Rudner declined to offer specifics on potential dates.
ESPN selected the game as part of its “Super Tuesday” lineup, so either it or its family of networks will receive first choice on televising the rescheduled game.
The event has financial relevance for Indiana. Among Big Ten public schools, the Hoosiers ranked first in basketball ticket revenue at $9.21 million in fiscal year 2013, according to documents obtained by The Gazette. But Indiana ranked last in football ticket revenue in the same fiscal year at $4.93 million. Purdue was second-lowest in football ticket revenue at $8.92 million.
Also Indiana’s athletics department total revenue was the second-lowest among the league’s public schools at $76.66 million. Only Purdue ($72.3 million) made less in fiscal 2013.
An Indiana Pacers executive offered use of Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, but Glass declined the offer.
“We have all of our season ticket holders who would have to transfer their seating arrangement here to Bankers Life Fieldhouse,” Glass said. “It’s not all apples to apples. People have scheduled their lives to some extent around when the game is going to be, and it would be very short notice that the game is turning around on a couple day’s notice. Just the collective efforts that need to go in to putting on a Big Ten game, our event staff felt like we couldn’t do it in a way that they were comfortable with.”
McCaffery was interested in moving the game to Indianapolis. Instead, the team took two separate planes back to Iowa City on Tuesday.
“That was one of the things that was discussed,” McCaffery said. “We were wondering about playing it there (Wednesday). We were already down there, bus up to Indianapolis from Bloomington and play it there. Apparently logistically it’s a little more complicated to turn around in one day.”
Postponements are nothing new for the Iowa men’s basketball program over the years. Two games were moved in 1993 after Iowa junior forward Chris Street was killed in a car accident. In 2007, an ice storm pushed back Iowa’s game with Northwestern by one day, forcing a men’s-women’s doubleheader. Last year, a predicted blizzard in Lincoln, Neb., shifted the Iowa-Nebraska men’s basketball game from Thursday night to Saturday afternoon.
Iowa plays host to Wisconsin, and Indiana plays at Northwestern on Saturday.
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