UT, Memphis in talks to continue men's basketball series

Memphis coach Josh Pastner (left) communicates to his players during first half action against Louisville at The FedExForum on Dec. 15, 2012, while an official makes a gesture to the scorer's table. (Mark Weber/The Commercial Appeal)

Photo by MARK WEBER, Commercial Appeal

Memphis coach Josh Pastner (left) communicates to his players during first half action against Louisville at The FedExForum on Dec. 15, 2012, while an official makes a gesture to the scorer's table. (Mark Weber/The Commercial Appeal)

Winds sweeping east from West Tennessee carried a different tune late Thursday afternoon.

Before the Tennessee-Memphis men's basketball rivalry could manage to die tonight at Thompson-Boling Arena, Tigers athletic director Tom Bowen reversed course with an unexpected resuscitation.

"We are re-evaluating everything," Bowen told The Commercial Appeal, adding that playing the Vols is "important for us."

The song couldn't have been more different than that being sung by Memphis coach Josh Pastner, who earlier in the week told the News Sentinel, "The facts are, this will be the last year of the series unless we play them in the postseason. Now obviously, if any of my bosses want to play them, that's —," he cut himself off there, and said, "Me as the head coach, the series is over, the contract is over, let's move on."

Pastner's boss wasn't quite ready to move on.

The Vols and Tigers and will face off today (TV: ESPN2, 8 p.m.) for the final meeting in an eight-year, home-and-away contract that began in 2005-06. The deal coincided with a five-game home-and-home football agreement that has one remaining contest scheduled for 2017 in Knoxville.

UT athletic director Dave Hart, in a Thursday afternoon email to the News Sentinel through university spokesman Jimmy Stanton, said, "As we have said all along, we have a strong desire to continue the series with Memphis. Over the course of the last couple of days, we've had multiple conversations with them, and I'm hopeful that we'll be able to get this resolved and continue the series."

"Men's basketball has been the primary focus of the discussion...we expect future discussions to include other sports as well."

Sports 56 WHBQ-AM in Memphis was the first to report Thursday that the rivalry might live to see another day.

Pastner has staunchly said he has no interest in playing Tennessee since 2011.

Speaking with WNML radio in Knoxville on Thursday afternoon, though, Pastner didn't rule out playing the Vols in the future. In an interview coming after news of Bowen's intent on playing UT came public, he told host Jimmy Hyams that he and Bowen will "re-evaluate" playing UT down the line.

On Monday, Pastner told

the News Sentinel, "We will not play Tennessee anymore as long as I'm the head coach and I'm doing my scheduling."

Four days later, Bowen was forthright in saying, "The problem right now with us scheduling in basketball is the (uncertainty surrounding) the Big East. I told Dave Hart when I get more definitives we can sit down and talk about (future) games and what we're going to do."

"I've known Dave Hart for a very long time. He is a very good guy."

UT coach Cuonzo Martin said Tuesday he's in favor of continuing the rivalry with Memphis in the future, but stated adding the Tigers to next season's schedule won't be possible. He didn't elaborate further on the 2013-14 schedule.

Tennessee and Memphis State, as it was known, first met in basketball in 1969. The Vols won, 72-51. Nineteen years passed before the two began a 14-year home-and-home series that ended in 2001. UT leads the all-time series 14-10.

Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at Twitter.com/BFQuinn

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Comments » 38

TeamXer writes:

great photo.

MikeInTN writes:

I hope things work out in both sports for the rivalry to continue. GBO!!

volatic1 writes:

I hope this series dies, nothing to win and everything to lose.

VolzsFan writes:

sounds like Pastner got his hand slapped.

Its_Goooood writes:

Did'nt the state legislature in Fl force the Gators and Noles to play. It seems one of them wanted to stop the series in the late nineties. If memphis is a state school,could this be a scenario?

mocsandvolsfan writes:

I like Memphis ok as an opponent. But they don't compare traditionally to the Kentuckys, floridas, LSUs, Even Bamas in Basketball. The SEC is better RPI than Memphis most seasons. We have beaten them more than not. 'Course tat's true with Florida even in thier champion seasons.hehe.

BUT I DO like playing Memphis. If for no other reason than that they are from Missouri...or Kansas I can't remember which.(just kiddin' Stokes)These out of state teams like Memphis are fun to beat. Especially if we get to win with one of their coveted players.lol

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Golly I hate typos that make me look even more dumb!!!

"Cuurse tHat's true with Florida even in thEIr chapioUn seasons." unquote and with correcshuns!!

MemphoVol writes:

in response to TeamXer:

great photo.

Yep. The word that the ref is saying in sign language is A_ _ hole. I'm serious. Look it up.

cvol1990 writes:

If Memphis will not play us in basketball, then we should not play them in football under any circumstances.

askjeff writes:

in response to TeamXer:

great photo.

Maryville, TN finest

DonK37920 writes:

I don't have any objection to playing them in football. If we are gong to schedule cream puffs every year anyway, we might as well keep that money in the state. I'd rather add another SEC game to the schedule every year rather than playing the 3 "money grab" games we played this year. But one of those games might as well be Memphis or UTC or MTSU rather than paying Louisiana Monroe or Tulsa or Akron etc... Keep some of that money in the state!

Razor784 writes:

Football is the engine that drives the bus. If they don't play us in basketball then we won't play them in football. This series is continuing and there's nothing crybaby Pastner can do about it.

ssukonic#254241 writes:

Your article says the game is "today." News flash.....the game is tomorrow night (Friday).

kennypowers writes:

Article is written for the paper which will be distributed on Friday.

WaVol writes:

I say forget them. If they don't wanna play us they can go screw themselves. No sense us bailing out their whinny back sides now. Let that pompous turd take the heat for ruining relations. I say beat the phooey out of them Friday night and then let them go. Maybe when they lose the hubris and come crawling back we will waste our time with them again.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to WaVol:

I say forget them. If they don't wanna play us they can go screw themselves. No sense us bailing out their whinny back sides now. Let that pompous turd take the heat for ruining relations. I say beat the phooey out of them Friday night and then let them go. Maybe when they lose the hubris and come crawling back we will waste our time with them again.

Agreed, especially if UT wins tomorrow night..Cut ties and forever be one up on that commuter school located in Helby County.

PUL4VOLS writes:

Please do continue, it needs to be done.

KevDVol writes:

Memphis should be embarrassed to have a "head" coach so openly afraid of competition. I'm quite sure that the kids from the city of Memphis don't share Pussner's cowardice.

born2ride writes:

UT is the flagship university of Tennessee.

Memphis is our little sister.

UT is 22-1 in football.

Bruce Pearl OWNED the Tiger High Thugs in Basketball.

Memphis needs to play UT. We are trying to be nice and throw a dog a bone but they are getting the big head.

The Tigers are joining the Big East - but all the good teams will be gone. Memphis is nothing but a mid-major. Their fans wish they could be like us.

Dave Hart should make the Memphis AD beg for the privilege of playing the Vols.

Ha! Ha!

mike#208050 writes:

in response to born2ride:

UT is the flagship university of Tennessee.

Memphis is our little sister.

UT is 22-1 in football.

Bruce Pearl OWNED the Tiger High Thugs in Basketball.

Memphis needs to play UT. We are trying to be nice and throw a dog a bone but they are getting the big head.

The Tigers are joining the Big East - but all the good teams will be gone. Memphis is nothing but a mid-major. Their fans wish they could be like us.

Dave Hart should make the Memphis AD beg for the privilege of playing the Vols.

Ha! Ha!

UT gets the Lion's share of the educational dollar from the Leglistature in Tennessee for sure. So wave your "flag".

Bruce Pearl was kicked out of coaching for cheating and lying while representing UT. I know that makes you proud. All he recruited was thugs and that has been well exposed.

Memphis has accomplished more in men's basketball than UT has, that is not even disputable. Nationally, Memphis gets respect. Why should we play a school who trash talks the like as UT?

Peyton Manning lost to Memphis, when favored by 42 points. I was there, it was a great night in Memphis! Memphis only plays UT in football for the payday. Finacially, the need to play UT is not what it once was. Our football schedule is still far better with the Big East members staying. There is no comparison in the budgets of the two programs. It will never be on equal ground.

UT is not "being nice" to Memphis throwing us a bone. Your AD is begging Memphis to continue to play the series to add some creditibly to your schedule and help with recruiting Memphis players. Pastner is smart to tell you guys to take a hike. Calipari wanted to end the series too and he managed to get rid of Ole Miss and Arkansas for the same reason.

As a fan, I would like to see the game continue every year, in Nashville splitting the tickets evenly between both schools with referees from another conference. I think Hamilton regected that offer when Calipari proposed it.

UConn and Cincinnati are still in the Big East and Louisville has agreed to a long-term deal play Memphis as well. Top to bottom, the Big East is still a better basketball league than the SEC. The SEC v. Big East challenge will decide that.

Tom Bowen, Memphis AD is new. I am sure our football coach will have a major stake in future dealings with scheduling. Playing the Vols has long lost its luster for Memphis. UT has done everything in its power over the years to keep Memphis out of the SEC. Face it, you just don't matter to us anymore.

Volunatic writes:

in response to ssukonic#254241:

Your article says the game is "today." News flash.....the game is tomorrow night (Friday).

To the readers who count (i.e.-- the paying subscribers) the reference to the game "today" in this article will be correct.

Volunatic writes:

"Playing the Vols has long lost its luster for Memphis."

Tell that to the fans who pack FedEx Forum when Memphis plays the Vols.
Enjoy your series against Oral Roberts.

gohawks1 writes:

in response to ssukonic#254241:

Your article says the game is "today." News flash.....the game is tomorrow night (Friday).

These articles are usually written the day before a game so that they can be printed in the newspaper on game day. Online readers just get a look at them before they reach hard copy.

rbwtn writes:

Why is the coach so against playing UT? In my opinion I would love to be the Champion School in the State but you never know it unless you play. It seems like the AD's have gotten in the picture with a level head. Coaches come and go but the School, and most AD's stay put. Coaches Coach the Team the Ad's make the Schedule.

gillblog writes:

".... when I get more definitives we can sit down and talk"
Definitives? Definitives?!
Wonderful, another office-jargon word to synergize into my vocabulary. That is, IF I have the bandwidth.

Hopefully, whomever he sits down with will have a dictionary on hand.

absgovols writes:

in response to mike#208050:

UT gets the Lion's share of the educational dollar from the Leglistature in Tennessee for sure. So wave your "flag".

Bruce Pearl was kicked out of coaching for cheating and lying while representing UT. I know that makes you proud. All he recruited was thugs and that has been well exposed.

Memphis has accomplished more in men's basketball than UT has, that is not even disputable. Nationally, Memphis gets respect. Why should we play a school who trash talks the like as UT?

Peyton Manning lost to Memphis, when favored by 42 points. I was there, it was a great night in Memphis! Memphis only plays UT in football for the payday. Finacially, the need to play UT is not what it once was. Our football schedule is still far better with the Big East members staying. There is no comparison in the budgets of the two programs. It will never be on equal ground.

UT is not "being nice" to Memphis throwing us a bone. Your AD is begging Memphis to continue to play the series to add some creditibly to your schedule and help with recruiting Memphis players. Pastner is smart to tell you guys to take a hike. Calipari wanted to end the series too and he managed to get rid of Ole Miss and Arkansas for the same reason.

As a fan, I would like to see the game continue every year, in Nashville splitting the tickets evenly between both schools with referees from another conference. I think Hamilton regected that offer when Calipari proposed it.

UConn and Cincinnati are still in the Big East and Louisville has agreed to a long-term deal play Memphis as well. Top to bottom, the Big East is still a better basketball league than the SEC. The SEC v. Big East challenge will decide that.

Tom Bowen, Memphis AD is new. I am sure our football coach will have a major stake in future dealings with scheduling. Playing the Vols has long lost its luster for Memphis. UT has done everything in its power over the years to keep Memphis out of the SEC. Face it, you just don't matter to us anymore.

Easy Michael...if you take your basketball and go home, we will take our football (and $) and go to our beautiful home in eastern Tennessee. Then, you will be relegated to staying in western Tennessee, never to see Tennessee’s beautiful side of the state again in football or basketball (or our beautiful east Tennessee $). Like I said, easy Michael - and you had better speak to Tom Bowen before you make another post.

brod writes:

memphis vs. ut is a big money maker. money talks.

BigBadVol writes:

Sounds like Pastner is a spoiled little brat.

ktownorange32 writes:

in response to mike#208050:

UT gets the Lion's share of the educational dollar from the Leglistature in Tennessee for sure. So wave your "flag".

Bruce Pearl was kicked out of coaching for cheating and lying while representing UT. I know that makes you proud. All he recruited was thugs and that has been well exposed.

Memphis has accomplished more in men's basketball than UT has, that is not even disputable. Nationally, Memphis gets respect. Why should we play a school who trash talks the like as UT?

Peyton Manning lost to Memphis, when favored by 42 points. I was there, it was a great night in Memphis! Memphis only plays UT in football for the payday. Finacially, the need to play UT is not what it once was. Our football schedule is still far better with the Big East members staying. There is no comparison in the budgets of the two programs. It will never be on equal ground.

UT is not "being nice" to Memphis throwing us a bone. Your AD is begging Memphis to continue to play the series to add some creditibly to your schedule and help with recruiting Memphis players. Pastner is smart to tell you guys to take a hike. Calipari wanted to end the series too and he managed to get rid of Ole Miss and Arkansas for the same reason.

As a fan, I would like to see the game continue every year, in Nashville splitting the tickets evenly between both schools with referees from another conference. I think Hamilton regected that offer when Calipari proposed it.

UConn and Cincinnati are still in the Big East and Louisville has agreed to a long-term deal play Memphis as well. Top to bottom, the Big East is still a better basketball league than the SEC. The SEC v. Big East challenge will decide that.

Tom Bowen, Memphis AD is new. I am sure our football coach will have a major stake in future dealings with scheduling. Playing the Vols has long lost its luster for Memphis. UT has done everything in its power over the years to keep Memphis out of the SEC. Face it, you just don't matter to us anymore.

Impressive book you wrote there lol.... anyhoo, 1 I wouldn't speak of Pearl since he owned Memphis and you guys also loved a snake named Calipari, 2 I hate when anyone talks about the shame Pearl left us with. That's rediculous. Pearl got caught doing something all the coaches do and had the unfortunate luck to be the guy that the NCAA wanted to make an example of. Pearl left no shame. He is still widely loved in Ktown and even ESPN guys (that generally hate UT) said it was a bogus punishment. I would love to see Pearl come back when suspension is over and the series between UT and Memphis live on.

GburgOrange writes:

in response to mike#208050:

UT gets the Lion's share of the educational dollar from the Leglistature in Tennessee for sure. So wave your "flag".

Bruce Pearl was kicked out of coaching for cheating and lying while representing UT. I know that makes you proud. All he recruited was thugs and that has been well exposed.

Memphis has accomplished more in men's basketball than UT has, that is not even disputable. Nationally, Memphis gets respect. Why should we play a school who trash talks the like as UT?

Peyton Manning lost to Memphis, when favored by 42 points. I was there, it was a great night in Memphis! Memphis only plays UT in football for the payday. Finacially, the need to play UT is not what it once was. Our football schedule is still far better with the Big East members staying. There is no comparison in the budgets of the two programs. It will never be on equal ground.

UT is not "being nice" to Memphis throwing us a bone. Your AD is begging Memphis to continue to play the series to add some creditibly to your schedule and help with recruiting Memphis players. Pastner is smart to tell you guys to take a hike. Calipari wanted to end the series too and he managed to get rid of Ole Miss and Arkansas for the same reason.

As a fan, I would like to see the game continue every year, in Nashville splitting the tickets evenly between both schools with referees from another conference. I think Hamilton regected that offer when Calipari proposed it.

UConn and Cincinnati are still in the Big East and Louisville has agreed to a long-term deal play Memphis as well. Top to bottom, the Big East is still a better basketball league than the SEC. The SEC v. Big East challenge will decide that.

Tom Bowen, Memphis AD is new. I am sure our football coach will have a major stake in future dealings with scheduling. Playing the Vols has long lost its luster for Memphis. UT has done everything in its power over the years to keep Memphis out of the SEC. Face it, you just don't matter to us anymore.

We beat you like a drum in football and basketball. You are not relevant in the state.
Tn is not keeping you out of the SEC. You have to have something to offer and meet academic standards.
I doubt the conference will put three TN schools in, and the media market is already owned by us.
Why bother? There is UTM,ASU, CBU, MTSU, Autin Peay. Play them.

usnavyvolfan_on_duty writes:

Looks like the coach and his AD need to communicate more.

Can't believe these guys are on different pages and going public with it. Very comical to watch.

jhncpps1 writes:

in response to mike#208050:

UT gets the Lion's share of the educational dollar from the Leglistature in Tennessee for sure. So wave your "flag".

Bruce Pearl was kicked out of coaching for cheating and lying while representing UT. I know that makes you proud. All he recruited was thugs and that has been well exposed.

Memphis has accomplished more in men's basketball than UT has, that is not even disputable. Nationally, Memphis gets respect. Why should we play a school who trash talks the like as UT?

Peyton Manning lost to Memphis, when favored by 42 points. I was there, it was a great night in Memphis! Memphis only plays UT in football for the payday. Finacially, the need to play UT is not what it once was. Our football schedule is still far better with the Big East members staying. There is no comparison in the budgets of the two programs. It will never be on equal ground.

UT is not "being nice" to Memphis throwing us a bone. Your AD is begging Memphis to continue to play the series to add some creditibly to your schedule and help with recruiting Memphis players. Pastner is smart to tell you guys to take a hike. Calipari wanted to end the series too and he managed to get rid of Ole Miss and Arkansas for the same reason.

As a fan, I would like to see the game continue every year, in Nashville splitting the tickets evenly between both schools with referees from another conference. I think Hamilton regected that offer when Calipari proposed it.

UConn and Cincinnati are still in the Big East and Louisville has agreed to a long-term deal play Memphis as well. Top to bottom, the Big East is still a better basketball league than the SEC. The SEC v. Big East challenge will decide that.

Tom Bowen, Memphis AD is new. I am sure our football coach will have a major stake in future dealings with scheduling. Playing the Vols has long lost its luster for Memphis. UT has done everything in its power over the years to keep Memphis out of the SEC. Face it, you just don't matter to us anymore.

Peyton only lost to Memphis because the officials blew the call on that kickoff return...he was clearly on the ground and if there was replay it would have been overturned......Mike Hamilton has a lot of blame for the Pearl situation (not all because Pearl still lied) but hamilton could have told Pearl about the photo when he found out about it instead of letting Pearl getting blindsided by it and having to make a quick decision about how to respond instead of taking his time with how to respond

Basketvol writes:

in response to mike#208050:

UT gets the Lion's share of the educational dollar from the Leglistature in Tennessee for sure. So wave your "flag".

Bruce Pearl was kicked out of coaching for cheating and lying while representing UT. I know that makes you proud. All he recruited was thugs and that has been well exposed.

Memphis has accomplished more in men's basketball than UT has, that is not even disputable. Nationally, Memphis gets respect. Why should we play a school who trash talks the like as UT?

Peyton Manning lost to Memphis, when favored by 42 points. I was there, it was a great night in Memphis! Memphis only plays UT in football for the payday. Finacially, the need to play UT is not what it once was. Our football schedule is still far better with the Big East members staying. There is no comparison in the budgets of the two programs. It will never be on equal ground.

UT is not "being nice" to Memphis throwing us a bone. Your AD is begging Memphis to continue to play the series to add some creditibly to your schedule and help with recruiting Memphis players. Pastner is smart to tell you guys to take a hike. Calipari wanted to end the series too and he managed to get rid of Ole Miss and Arkansas for the same reason.

As a fan, I would like to see the game continue every year, in Nashville splitting the tickets evenly between both schools with referees from another conference. I think Hamilton regected that offer when Calipari proposed it.

UConn and Cincinnati are still in the Big East and Louisville has agreed to a long-term deal play Memphis as well. Top to bottom, the Big East is still a better basketball league than the SEC. The SEC v. Big East challenge will decide that.

Tom Bowen, Memphis AD is new. I am sure our football coach will have a major stake in future dealings with scheduling. Playing the Vols has long lost its luster for Memphis. UT has done everything in its power over the years to keep Memphis out of the SEC. Face it, you just don't matter to us anymore.

Keep celebrating that one win over UT football! When I first read this story I thought little Memphis State should change their color to yellow. After reading your post, I wonder if it should be green. Jealous? Memphis isn't in the SEC because they don't belong there. I wish Arkansas would just annex that blighted city and rid us of it for good.

Tiger4Life writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

I like Memphis ok as an opponent. But they don't compare traditionally to the Kentuckys, floridas, LSUs, Even Bamas in Basketball. The SEC is better RPI than Memphis most seasons. We have beaten them more than not. 'Course tat's true with Florida even in thier champion seasons.hehe.

BUT I DO like playing Memphis. If for no other reason than that they are from Missouri...or Kansas I can't remember which.(just kiddin' Stokes)These out of state teams like Memphis are fun to beat. Especially if we get to win with one of their coveted players.lol

Are you referring to the same LSU that got stomped by Pastner and the Tigers 2 seasons ago? Is that the same Alabama who has never made a Final 4 and lost at home to Tulane this past weekend?

BTW, Memphis has beaten Tulane 20 in a row.

You may say we have no "tradition" but ESPN disagrees. We were 19th in their top 50 most successful programs of the last 50 years. Your little orange failed to scratch the list.

Memphis 9-4 all time vs KY, FLA, Bama, LSU
Memphis 104-77 all time vs current SEC teams

SevenT writes:

I don't blame Tennessee for ducking Memphis. Memphis has a better program.

lstbodeanvol writes:

I hear Vol fans say all the time that if memphis decides to drop the basketball series that Tennessee should cancel the football series. I actually think memphis would be relieved to get out of playing Tennessee at the Liberty bowl (1) would have to open more than one gate (2) open more than two bathrooms (3)cook more than 25 hot dogs, buy more than 10 2 liter drinks (4) continue to be out numbered by visitng team fans with the exception of the UK-Anchorage game...Johnson not happy about this LOL

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to SevenT:

I don't blame Tennessee for ducking Memphis. Memphis has a better program.

Don't you mean Caltucky ducking Memphis?? You POS!

jamgut writes:

Either people are simply too young to remember or maybe they just don't want to remember, but for years it was UTK that refused to play Memphis. I recall an interview with Don DeVoe where he implied that Memphis was more on a par with Austin Peay and MTSU and it would be beneath the Vols to play them. It was a fairly funny considering that at the time, the Vols had never won more than one game in an NCAA tourney.

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