LEXINGTON–The University of Kentucky Athletics Association announced that the football game between the Wildcats and the Vanderbilt Commodores, scheduled for Saturday, November 13, has been canceled. By playing, UK would have violated its $80 million contractual agreement with the independent sports, entertainment, and media marketing firm, IMG. UK’s contract with IMG stipulates that the Wildcats may not use Commonwealth Stadium to play any collegiate opponent which considers academic achievement to be an integral part of its overall brand image. By SEC rule, UK forfeits the contest, and their record moves to 5-6.
- University of Kentucky Head Football Coach Joker Phillips sheds a tear when he announced that the contest against Vanderbilt had been cancelled. UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart (R) laughs all the way to the bank.
“This news comes an a particularly inopportune time,” said Head Coach Joker Phillips. “All season long, I’ve been telling my men that no matter how bad things get, no matter how many yards we give up, we’ve still got Vanderbilt as an easy conference win on our November schedule. So much for that.”
With the “loss,” UK must win its final game of the season against the University of Tennessee to maintain bowl eligibility for a record 4th straight season.
IMG, which manages UK’s brand image, facilities, licensing agreements, and plans to build a new Rupp Arena, suggested that the UK-Vanderbilt game would have been a conflict of interests.
“Vanderbilt is a private institution that tolerates athletic mediocrity at the expense of scholastic excellence, said Shea Guinn, SVP and Managing Director at IMG. “In the past decade, they’ve registered a losing record in every major sport, yet they’ve routinely honored Fulbright scholars and ranked in the top 15 for undergraduate education. We don’t want UK to play football with academic nerds. It hurts our brand image.”
UK students and season ticket holders were saddened by the cancellation, but many said they would come and tailgate anyway.
“Win or lose, we’re here for the booze,” said Jackson Terrance, a first-year student in the College of Law.
This is not the first time IMG has flexed its proverbial muscles over jurisdiction of Commonwealth Stadium. In October, IMG notified Kentucky Kernel reporters that they could not hand out copies of its newspaper on stadium grounds, despite the fact that the stadium is owned by the University of Kentucky.
Lame Duck President Lee Todd, Jr. could not be reached for comment.