NIU-DePaul contest still up in air

By Jim Wozniak

Conflicting statements have been uttered between NIU, DePaul and Rockford MetroCentre officials about negotiations between the two schools and where next season’s basketball game will be played.

NIU Men’s Athletic Director Robert Brigham and Coach Jim Rosborough said they would like NIU to play DePaul at Chick Evans Field House instead of the MetroCentre. DePaul Athletic Director Bill Bradshaw said the Blue Demons would not play NIU in DeKalb if NIU requested such a move. MetroCentre acting General Manager Brad Walsh said he and Brigham have discussed having only one game there—NIU against Bradley Dec. 12.

“I have indicated to DePaul (Bradshaw) that we want to play it in DeKalb, but the contract does indicate the MetroCentre,” Brigham said. “He said he and (DePaul Coach) Joey (Meyer) would have to sit down and discuss it. I can’t remember if I followed up that phone call with a letter.”

“Brigham and (NIU Associate Athletic Director Jerry) Ippoliti have made some contact,” Rosborough said Thursday. “Once Joey and the team are done, I’m going to make some contact. My preference is to play the game here. We’re in a bind this year. The contract calls for the game at the MetroCentre. Regardless, I’m not going to let DePaul out of the contract.”

Contacted in Cincinnati the day before the Blue Demons succumbed to LSU in the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament, Bradshaw said no NIU personnel have discussed the possible switch.

“We’ve scheduled that game, and it is our understanding the game will be played in Rockford,” Bradshaw said. “I’m confident we will play the game in Rockford. (I’m) opposed to that (playing in DeKalb) for many reasons.”

Walsh, however, said the contract does not require NIU and DePaul to play the game in Rockford.

“There is no stipulation in our agreement that the game has to be played at the MetroCentre,” he said. “In the past DePaul has played here at their request.”

Brigham said that was not true.

Brigham said he was uncertain right now what he would do if DePaul refused to play the game at the fieldhouse.

“Of course, that’s speculation,” he said. “I don’t want to say what we might do. If they don’t, we’ll have to talk to the (Athletic) Board. That’ll be a board decision.

“What we’re doing is what the board has told us to do, which is to play less games there. We still have a contract with the MetroCentre.”

“I really don’t know what we would do until we would be presented with the schedule,” said Athletic Board Chairman Curt Norton. “I don’t know what they (board members) would do. That would be a difficult decision to make. There was probably an agreement among the board that we not play more than one game.”

Norton said the board asked him for a report on his negotiations with the MetroCentre, and Brigham then brought up playing only one game there next year.

Walsh said that although MetroCentre officials plan to host only one game next year, he would accept a proposal where NIU would play DePaul and Bradley at the six-year-old Rockford facility.

“At the last meeting with Dr. Brigham, we discussed having only one game here next year,” he said. “If it were DePaul and Bradley, yes we would.

“It was primarily due to this last season. The attendance was low, and it was not financially beneficial for us. I think Dr. Brigham was of the same concensus. That’s been one of our problems—drawing the on-campus crowd. Originally the contract was not only to draw the Rockford audience but also the students.”

DePaul has not played NIU in the fieldhouse since 1979 in the series which alternates from year to year between the two schools’ designated home stadium. NIU began holding its games at the MetroCentre in 1981 and has played DePaul three times there, losing each time.

When DePaul came to the fieldhouse in 1979, NIU took DePaul into overtime in front of a sellout crowd before the Blue Demons came out on top 57-55. NIU has sold out the MetroCentre only once—in 1981—in the three games.