A University of Washington proposal to resume the men’s basketball series with Gonzaga was met with a chilly reception from the Bulldogs.
The Huskies proposed a three-game series, beginning next season, with all three games to be played at KeyArena in Seattle. Ticket allotments and revenues would be divided evenly. Washington wants an equal number of affordably priced tickets for students at each school, and for the contest to be worked by Pac-10 officials who also call WCC games.
Gonzaga has no objection to playing the Huskies, but prefers a home-and-home series. GU already plays one game annually at KeyArena – vs. Davidson this December, and tentatively against Illinois and Arizona the next two years.
“In light of the recent reports out of Seattle Wednesday regarding renewing the Gonzaga-Washington men’s basketball rivalry, I did receive a proposal late Tuesday from Washington,” Bulldogs athletic director Mike Roth said in a statement released Wednesday night. “I have always been of the opinion this is a good game for both schools, a good game for the state of Washington and a good game for basketball in the Pacific Northwest.
“At the same time, it is a series that should be equitable for both schools. I have always believed it is a game best played on the two campuses because of the great college basketball atmosphere in both campus venues.”
The Bulldogs probably wouldn’t be in favor of an arrangement where games would alternate between KeyArena and the Spokane Arena. Gonzaga already plays one game each season, the Ronald McDonald House Charities Classic, at the Spokane Arena. Oklahoma will be GU’s opponent Dec. 31.
“The renewal of this series is something that will be decided by the two athletic directors and the two head basketball coaches in private discussions,” Roth said.
The Huskies declined to continue the series after the schools met 10 consecutive seasons, with Gonzaga winning eight, from 1998-2007. Those games alternated between GU’s and UW’s campus arenas.
“Gonzaga is a great program,” Husky coach Lorenzo Romar said in a statement released by UW. “When we discontinued the series initially, we knew there would come a time when we would probably renew the series. We think it is something that is going to work well for both programs. We’re ready to go.”
Roth declined further comment. Attempts to reach head coach Mark Few were unsuccessful.
There is some bitter history between the schools, stemming from the recruitment of ex-Zag Josh Heytvelt. Former Washington assistant coach Cameron Dollar, now the head coach at Seattle University, made illegal contact with Heytvelt when he was a junior at Clarkston High. Dollar was eventually disciplined by Washington for recruiting violations, including ones involving Heytvelt.