NCAA stops high school games in Rupp Arena '36 hours prior' to event

mfields@herald-leader.comNovember 25, 2011 

Rodney Grey, with the Lexington Center, cleaned the sidewalk under a banner honoring former UK basketball coach Adolph Rupp outside Rupp Arena on West High Street near South Broadway in Lexington, Ky., Friday, October, 14, 2011. Rupp Arena opened in 1976. Charles Bertram | Staff

CHARLES BERTRAM — ALL

The NCAA has ruled that high school basketball teams cannot compete in the "Rumble in Rupp" scrimmages Friday and Sunday in Rupp Arena, denying one of Kentucky's top targets for next season the chance to play there. The two-day event will instead be played at Lexington Christian Academy.

Anthony Bennett, the No. 7 senior in the country, according to Rivals.com, and a major recruit for Kentucky, will be playing for Findlay Prep Friday at 5:45 p.m.

Rob Blair, CEO of the sponsoring Bleid Sports, sent an email to the coaches of participating teams and to the media informing them of the ruling.

"I regret to inform you that the NCAA has enforced a new rule (enforced on Wednesday, Nov. 23, at 10:05 p.m.) that prohibits non-scholastic events from playing on a collegiate campus or main practice/playing facility," he said.

"Bleid Sports had maintained on two separate occasions official approval to host these events at a collegiate arena (i.e. Rupp Arena). Rupp Arena's attorney also received approval to have these scholastic events at Rupp Arena. Rupp Arena has signed contracts with Bleid Sports, and the deposits for the building have been paid.

"We have fought and will continue to fight the NCAA on this matter. Our lawyer, a man accustomed to fighting the NCAA and winning, will bring some justice on the NCAA.

"However, this does nothing but hurt our schools all around the country playing in collegiate facilities. The NCAA is unjust in cancelling an event 36 hours prior (especially over the Thanksgiving holiday)."

Tates Creek girls' coach Justin Cheatham, whose team was scheduled to play in Rupp on Sunday, said in an email that his "players, as well as countless others across the state, are brokenhearted by the NCAA stepping in at this last minute and stomping on the dreams of kids all across this and neighboring states.

"Rupp Arena is the center of the basketball universe, and to tell these student-athletes just one day before tip-off of the first game that they won't be able to play speaks strongly to the diminished character of the NCAA."

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