Tom Crean glad the Kentucky vs. Indiana series will return: "It should have never gone away"

On3 imageby:Tyler Thompson04/03/24


On December 20, 2025, Kentucky will host Indiana at Rupp Arena, the first regular-season basketball game between the two rivals since the Hoosiers’ win over the Cats in Assembly Hall in December 2011. Although the two teams have met twice in the postseason since then (2012, 2016), the 14-year gap between regular season games is the longest in the series since the 21-year pause from 1944 to 1965.

We’ve written a lot about the efforts to resurrect the Kentucky-Indiana series over the years, but this morning, we got some pretty frank comments about it from former Indiana coach Tom Crean, now a commentator for ESPN. During an appearance on the KSR Preshow, Crean told Billy Rutledge that the series never should have stopped, pinning the blame on the IU administration at the time, who turned down the Hoosiers’ invite to the CBS Sports Classic because the date conflicted with the Crossroads Classic, Indiana’s multi-team event with Purdue, Butler, and Notre Dame.

“It should have never gone away,” Crean said of the series. “I mean, it just shouldn’t [have] but it did. And as I’ve said numerous times in the past, John [Calipari] actually tried to bring it back by helping us get into that [CBS Sports] Classic that they do with North Carolina, UCLA, and Ohio State.

“And we were offered that position and our administration at the time didn’t want to do it because they didn’t want to mess with the Crossroads Classic that was being played in Indianapolis along with Purdue, Butler, and Notre Dame. And instead of looking for a date to change the [Crossroads] Classic, they just decided, let’s not play that game, which I was never in agreement with because I thought it would have been a perfect time to get that series going again and it would have maybe brought it back to life and that was all from Coach Calipari and CBS with that.”

As I’m sure you recall, the two sides stalled on an agreement for years, with Indiana pushing for a traditional home-and-home series and John Calipari insisting on a format that included neutral-site games. Eventually, once Scott Dolson took over for Fred Glass as athletic director and Mike Woodson for Archie Miller as head coach, a compromise was made. The Dec. 2025 game in Rupp Arena is the first of four between the two teams. In Dec. 2026, they will play at Lucas Oil Stadium, the next year at Rupp, and finally, at Assembly Hall in Dec. 2028.

“The fact that it’s there, I think it’s great,” Crean said of the series returning. “It went away. It shouldn’t have, but it did. There was a lot of needless drama inside of that and it just is what it is, but it’s back. And I think that’s great for college basketball. I think it’s great for television and it’s great for the fanbases. And I give Coach Calipari a lot of credit for agreeing to do it.”

We’ll have more from Crean’s appearance on the KSR Preshow in just a bit. You can listen to the entire interview below or wherever you find your podcasts.

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