U of U’s Coach K explains why he canceled BYU, Utah rivalry game

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SALT LAKE CITY -- University of Utah’s head basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak spoke to the media for the first time since it was announced last week that he canceled next season's game against BYU.

Krystkowiak thinks the rivalry needs a cooling off period after BYU’s Nick Emery threw a punch at Utah’s Brandon Taylor during a game in December.

Krystkowiak said he's concerned for the safety of the players in this rivalry game, which he called dangerous.

"It's become pretty toxic and venomous," Krystkowiak said.

He added he needs to protect his players.

Krystkowiak said he respects this rivalry, but feels the level of intensity has been building up over the years, which is why he decided to cancel the game.

"What I've seen and what the arena that I've been in, and what I've experienced, specifically the last four years is it's very heightened and it's dangerous,” the coach said. “This isn't any one event, this is a pattern, and it's really for a lack of a better term would be the straw that broke the camel's back when this year's episode took place, where I feel like it's kind of escalated each year.

“I'm not sure that a year off is going to solve it. All I know is that I don't want to put ourselves in that situation a year from now.  If this needs to be put on me, as I'm the coach that blew it up, that I'm that coach that couldn't handle it, so be it."

BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe released a statement regarding the canceled game:

"I'm disappointed in the University of Utah's decision to cancel the 2016 basketball game with BYU. I believe it's one of the great college rivalries in the country. It's bigger than any of the individual participants and should be played every year."

Holmoe said he hopes the rivalry will continue on a yearly basis in the very near future.


  • David Whittington

    I am a huge Ute basketball fan, but Utah Coach K is WAY off-base with his feeble excuses for cancelling the Utah-BYU hoop games. Coach K is claiming he is now AFRAID of the mean BYU players ? Pah-leese. Coach K needs to man-up and let the players play the game. So what if an irate BYU player threw a punch in the heat of a game ? This same thing happens on all basketball courts around the world and even in local Ward basketball games. The referees are on the courts to control this kind of behavior. I think Coach K is cancelling this game for OTHER reasons – probably reasons related to Utah’s Pac 12 standings and a possible fall in Utah’s national prestige if the Utes lost a game to BYU. Coach K needs to change his mind about all this and reinstate the Ute – BYU basketball game – a rivalry that goes back many decades – LONG before Coach K was even born !!

  • Finny Wiggen

    I am a BYU fan, and I agree completely with what Coach Krystkowiak stated. He is dead on. BYU owes U of U an apology. Their lack of remorse for their inappropriate actions is beneath them. Until they take responsibility for what they did, I wouldn’t play against them either, if I were the Utes.

    Logic, common sense, and the moral high ground are on the side of Utah.

  • Apologist JD

    Translation: I’m really scared that we’re going to lose a lot of times in a row to BYU, and we here at Utah are trying desperately to maintain the image that we belong in a P5 conference, so we need to cancel the games. Our athletics department is toast if anyone realizes that we’re just a mid-major who was invited to a P5 conference to be cannon fodder for the good schools. So we’ll see how long it takes for BYU’s program to be less of a threat to us, and then we’ll let the games resume. This worked out pretty well for the mediocre/bad football program!

  • A. Emil Gaertner

    First, it is disrespectful to the REAL “Coach K” to refer to Krystkowiak as such. I like former Laker teammate, Mychal Thompson’s nickname for the former Montana thug; “Eb”. Thompson called to attention the similarity between Krystkowiak and Eb from the 1960’s TV show, “Green Acres”.
    Mike Krzyzewski deserves better than to have his name misappropriated by a few dumbed down followers of a fourth rate bush league wannabe like the comical Utah “coach”.
    The REAL reason for the cancellation of the rivalry game is, in plain words, anti-Mormonism and communist/socialist political correctness. Look, lots of people do it, even Mormons who wish to distance themselves from the label and place themselves in the good graces and high esteem of the worldly and the popular media culture.
    It is good politics and financially advantageous to distance yourself from Mormons. Mitt Romney does it, Steve Young does it. So does everyone else who wishes to be “cool” in the eyes of the world.
    The University of Utah will benefit greatly by distancing itself from any semblance of a close relationship with the LDS Church or it’s teachings or it’s flagship school, BYU. In the future, they can, when questioned about the dominant religion and culture in their state, point to this decision (among many others) as proof that they are NOT in any way to be considered “Mormon” or sympathetic with them or associated with them.
    I say good riddance. BYU needs the U. of U. like they need a hole in the head.

  • Don Nelson

    I think it is a good move on the part of University of Utah to cancel their basketball game with BYU. BYU would thrash the Utes and put another loss in their march to the final four. The Utes benefit from having a lower academic requirement and thus provide scholarships for those who could never enter BYU. I mean it is embarrassing to have U of U consistently lose to BYU. Even with the boneheads the U recruits, they still can’t beat the Y.

  • Voice of reason

    The BYU-Ute rivalry is weird and so strangely toxic. Realize there’s no “one true team”, BYU and BYU fans. It’s a sport, not the end of the world.

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