UC, Xavier rivalry moving to neutral site

CINCINNATI - The annual basketball game between the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University will continue in 2012, but with some changes, including a new name and a new venue.

Officials from both schools announced Thursday during a joint news conference at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center that the annual rivalry game will now be called the Skyline Chili Crosstown Classic.

The game will be played at U.S. Bank Arena for the next two years. UC will be the home team in 2012 when the game is played on  Wednesday Dec. 19 (time TBA) and Xavier will be the home for 2013.

This year's game, previously known as the Crosstown Shootout, was scheduled to be played at Fifth Third Arena on UC's campus. However, a brawl erupted with 9.4 seconds left in last year's contest that Xavier won 76-53. Several players were suspended and many people demanded changes be made.

UC President Gregory Williams and Xavier President Michael J. Graham said they are excited about the new look to the rivalry.

"We wanted to find ways to remind us all, including student-athletes and fans, that our athletic competition is about our two universities coming together to celebrate our hometown of Cincinnati and the mutual respect we have for each other. We want to celebrate the values we share in common and use this event to positively impact the city we both call home beyond just game night," Williams and Graham said in a statement.

Both schools wanted to "create a new culture around the game."

When asked how the players would respond to playing on a neutral sites, both coaches agreed it shouldn't be a problem.

"Our guys love these games. They don't care where they play. A neutral site is great because we both hope to play in the NCAA Tournament in March," said UC head coach Mick Cronin.

"We haven't lost there in a while so I was all for this," Cronin added. Xavier head coach Chris Mack agreed, saying "we haven't lost there in a while."

The universities announced the changes will focus on the city's unique assets, its riverfront including The Banks and the Freedom Center.

Ticket sales will be split between both schools with a portion going to the Freedom Center. Officials have yet to determine an exact percentage that will be donated to the Freedom Center.

Official changes to the game include:

  • The name change – A new name, Skyline Chili Crosstown Classic, has been selected to emphasize a new direction for the game and its new emphasis on the city and its riverfront. Both institutions are pleased Skyline Chili will continue as the primary sponsor. After the two-year trial period, should the game continue, the new name will remain.
  • A new logo incorporating the new name and the new direction.
  • The neutral site – the U.S. Bank Arena, located on the city's waterfront.
  • The addition of a new beneficiary of the game – The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, located along the riverfront, will receive a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales from the game.
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