LEXINGTON – CBS Sports Classic is not off Kentucky’s basketball schedule any time soon.
In January, the United Kingdom signed a three-year extension of the annual neutral performance event. The new contract, obtained from The Courier Journal, keeps Kentucky at the event along with North Carolina, UCLA and Ohio in the 2026-27 season.
Kentucky will play Ohio in 2024, UCLA in 2025 and North Carolina in 2026 in three cities to be determined at a later date.
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The expansion ensures that Kentucky will continue to play in at least two of its neutral games over the next three seasons. ESPN previously announced the Champions Classic, which includes Kentucky, Duke, Michigan and Kansas, was extended in the 2025-26 season.
Unlike in recent years, the Champions Classic will no longer be played as an opening season. The games are scheduled for November 14, 2023; November 12, 2024 and November 18, 2025
Kentucky’s involvement in a number of neutral games has come under increasing focus last season amid criticism for the lack of non-conference games played at Rupp Arena.
“We heard the noise about the schedule,” UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart told The Courier Journal in February. “We played a lot of games on neutral sites. Some of the bigger games, the bigger names were in neutral sites. I think in a certain period of time they were something that was useful for our program. Clearly, we want to play more games at Rupp Arena that I don’t mean make sense, but our fans would recognize, boy, these are special games. “
While games with neutral sites can weaken Kentucky’s home schedule, they are a financial benefit to the department.
ESPN will pay the United Kingdom $ 275,000 to participate in the Champions Classic 2023 and $ 300,000 to play in the 2024 and 2025 editions of the event, according to a contract received from the Courier Journal. The United Kingdom will also receive 20% of all ticket revenues over $ 1.1 million in 2023 and $ 1.2 million in 2024 and 2025.
CBS will pay Kentucky $ 250,000 for each game in the CBS Sports Classic from 2023 to 2026.
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Kentucky is scheduled to play a third game in neutral each of the next two seasons.
The Wildcats will face Michigan in London, England, on December 4th. The Basketball Hall of Fame will pay Kentucky $ 500,000 to participate in this game. A neutral match in a city that has not yet been announced against Notre Dame was originally scheduled for the 2022-23 season as part of a three-year series in which both teams played at home, but was postponed back to 2023-24. according to a report from John Rothstein of CBS Sports.
There will be at least two home games for Kentucky next season.
The annual rivalry in Louisville will be played at the Rupp Arena on December 31, 2022. Kentucky will host Kansas on January 28, 2023 as part of the Big 12 / SEC Challenge.
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The change to the Louisville series, imposed when the 2021 game was canceled due to problems with COVID-19 under the Louisville program, means that in seasons ending in even-numbered years, Kentucky is no longer guaranteed to host at least one of the game of Louisville and the Big / 12 SEC Challenge. As the SEC chose to keep its men’s basketball schedule in 18 games after Texas and Oklahoma joined the league, Kentucky already knows that two new series will have to be added this season to ensure that at least two big opponents do not play in Rupp Arena.
“There will still be times when we want to play in Madison Square Garden or we want to play in Chicago or Vegas, something like that,” Barnhart said in February. “There are a few of these games we want to play, but at the end of the day we also need to have enough of these games in balance at Rupp Arena. … We heard this message and we are trying to achieve a little more balance in this schedule. So we have to do that. “
Send John Hale an email to [email protected]; Follow him on Twitter at @JonHale_CJ.