Cincinnati basketball coach Mike Cronin reacts Thursday night as if someone just tried to explain why Dayton and Wright State don’t play each other. AP photo
Photo: Joe Robbins
Photo: Joe Robbins

SPORTS DAILY: Where’s Dayton’s crosstown shootout?

Dayton, Wright State haven’t played since 1997

For the benefit of any men’s college basketball fans who recently moved to the area and were scratching their heads:

Yes, it’s true. Hard as it might be to fathom, the two Division I schools in town don’t play each other.

I was reminded of this tonight while watching the annual matchup between Xavier and Cincinnati known as the Crosstown Shootout.

Yes, an hour south of here, those Division I schools somehow manage to maintain an actual rivalry. Sometimes violence erupts, but the game is fun and the community marks it on the calendar as a can’t-miss event in the dead of winter when nothing much else is going on.

That doesn’t happen here with Dayton and Wright State because, as best anyone has been able to discern over the years, Dayton fears elevating Wright State to its level by perhaps losing, or looking bad, or both. They haven’t met since Dec. 13, 1997, capping a brief series. Someone called it the Gem City Jam, proceeds went to charity, fans cheered and the world survived.

So, of course, it had to stop. It made too much sense.

It’s been suggested Dayton might play Wright State at UD Arena if no return engagement at the Nutter Center were part of the agreement. The WSU folks want no part of such a scenario, nor should they.

Wright State gets a new president soon. UD recently installed one. Maybe a fresh relationship can be forged and a new tradition started, one with the community’s greater good in mind.

But after two decades of non-action on the subject, don’t hold your breath.

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