MU, KU officials weigh in on future of rivalry
Missouri’s men’s basketball game against Kansas on Saturday was the 267th time the teams have played. But it could be one of the last times the long time rivals will compete since MU is moving to the Southeastern Conference next year. Opposing petitions have sprung up in Kansas and Missouri to either save or end the Border Showdown.
By Erin Dismeier (Columbia, Mo.)
Cole Donelson is one of the University of Missouri students who started the movement “Tradition Together, Rivals Forever,” a petition to continue the Border Showdown series after MU’s move to the SEC.
“That’s something that’s been going on for 150 years now and we think as students of Mizzou, that there’s no reason that should stop just because we’re changing conferences,” Donelson said.
Donelson says his group has gathered 750 signatures so far on its online petition. The group is using Facebook and simple social networking to gather support, but Donelson says there are plans to send the petition to the KU and MU administrations sometime in the coming weeks.
A group of Kansas alumni have begun a contrasting petition listing the reasons why it’s in the school’s best interest to dissolve the rivalry. Representatives of the group said they didn’t have time for a comment on this story.
However KU sophomore Kara Hayden says this doesn’t reflect the opinions of some current students.
“From what I’ve heard, we want it to continue. Just because MU is switching to a different conference doesn’t really end our rivalry,” Hayden said.
Hayden says many KU students will be sad to see the rivalry end.
"It’s almost bittersweet because although we don’t like each other and we’re rivals, it’s still really fun every year to talk up to your friends about it and go to the games,” Hayden said.
But Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has different feelings on the end of the rivalry. On Friday, Brownback said Missouri is to blame for the series ending because of the move to the SEC. Brownback echoed KU officials, saying that “keeping the rivalry going would be like a man divorcing his wife, then asking if they can still date.”
Mizzou Athletic Department Spokesperson Chad Moller says Missouri hopes to continue playing Kansas either next year or later down the road.
“We’ve been very upfront and very clear that we feel it’s an important part of our tradition and we’d like to be able to try and figure out a way to carry that forward,” Moller said.
Moller says the MU students’ petition is pretty representative of Missouri fans’ feelings. However, the efforts of both petitioning groups may be in vain.
“I don’t believe that a petition, while it would be received fine, it wouldn’t matter in the ultimate decision of whether Kansas and Missouri will play,” Marchiony said.
KU Associate Athletic Director Jim Marchiony says a petition like Donelson’s will really have no impact on the decision to continue the rivalry with MU.
“I’m just gonna say that for right now, the series will end and when and if it resumes is a decision that will be made in the years to come,” Marchiony said.
But he won’t go as far as saying there is no chance of renewing the rivalry in the future.
“I think right now, the University of Kansas is just gonna take a step back and breathe and that decision is going to be made in the future,” Marchiony said.
But Donelson says the group still feels compelled to try.
“We know it’s going to be really difficult but we feel like we need to do something. We have enjoyed over the past years loving the rivalry and really cherishing it as something that’s important to the Mizzou experience,” Donelson.
The first verdict on the rivalry’s future will come soon. Mizzou’s football schedule will be finalized and announced in the upcoming weeks. There are four open spots on the non-conference schedule, and KU is still not scheduled. The teams have met for 120 consecutive years in football.