UK Men's Basketball

NCAA refused UK's request for waiver on high school exhibitions

The NCAA rule that prompted Bleid Sports to change venues for a pre-season high school basketball event in Rupp Arena this weekend doesn't affect regular high school events like the Sweet Sixteen.

Lexington Center President Bill Owen said Friday that "scholastic event" was the key phrase in the NCAA rule.

Owen said a rule interpretation last spring by the NCAA prohibited member schools from hosting "non-scholastic" high school events. Owen believes the NCAA was primarily targeting AAU basketball.

The Lexington Center and Bleid Sports heard about the NCAA's interpretation, so they contacted the NCAA in early summer to get authorization for events such as this weekend's "Rumble in Rupp" pre-season scrimmages. Owen said Bleid Sports got the OK from the NCAA, and they worked out contracts with the Lexington Center for five different events.

"We thought we had approval, it was business as usual, and away we go," Owen said. "This was not unlike anything we've done the last 10 years working with (Kentucky Basketball Academy) and Bleid Sports."

But Owen said concerns arose out of conversations with the University of Kentucky this week as to the NCAA's authorization, so the Lexington Center and Bleid Sports asked UK to file a waiver request with the NCAA on Wednesday. "Just to make sure we were not opening the door to an infraction with UK," Owen said.

Late Wednesday night, the NCAA notified UK it was refusing to grant the request for the waiver.

Owen said Bleid Sports decided to relocate the scrimmages to Lexington Christian Academy "just to make sure they were not compromising UK's integrity on this particular rule."

Bleid Sports has similar events scheduled at college arenas around the country, including at Duke, Oregon and Virginia. Owen said he expects those events will also have to be relocated.

Since the Kentucky High School Athletic Association sponsors the state basketball tournaments in Rupp Arena and WKU's Diddle Arena, and the state football finals at WKU's L.T. Smith Stadium, those events aren't affected by the NCAA's rules.