Finally, the Washington Huskies will meet the Gonzaga Bulldogs on the basketball court again.
Beginning with the 2016-17 season, UW and Gonzaga will renew a series that has laid dormant since Dec. 9, 2006, the last time the in-state rivals played against each other.
Roughly 10 years will have passed by the time they play again. The new agreement is for four years, with the game site alternating between the team’ss campuses. It hasn’t yet been determined which school will host the 2016-17 game.
“This series is great for the fans of our state,” Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said in a statement released by the school. “The fans have shown that they really appreciate the game with Washington and Gonzaga. I mean, every one of them since we’ve been here has been a sellout, or close to it. There’s a lot of enthusiasm and hype centered around the game when these two teams meet.”
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Romar said in recent interviews that he didn’t think it would be long before Washington and Gonzaga worked out an agreement to play each other, and he has made frequent reference to how often fans ask him about the possibility of renewing the series.
It was the Huskies who cancelled the series following the 2006-07 season, after the teams had met in each season since 1997-98. Washington leads the all-time series 29-14, though Gonzaga has won eight of the past nine meetings between the schools.
Tension between Romar and Gonzaga coach Mark Few surfaced in 2003 after Few reportedly notified the NCAA of minor violations committed by then-UW assistant Cameron Dollar during the recruitment of Clarkston prospect Josh Heytvelt, who eventually signed with Gonzaga.
Both coaches have more or less avoided public discussion of the specifics surrounding the cancellation of the series, most often citing scheduling conflicts as the primary UW proposed in 2009 a three-year series between the teams to be played at Key Arena from 2011-13, though Few scoffed at that suggestion by famously remarking that the chances of that happening were “about the same as Bigfoot having my baby.”
In a statement released on Monday by Gonzaga, Few said: “We always knew we would resume the series. But our schedules have been full the last few years. We have an opportunity in 2016-17 and both teams were agreeable to playing.”