There will be a Big 12/Pac-10 men's basketball challenge next season.
"It's going to happen," Big 12 associate commissioner John Underwood told the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman.
Though details for the annual event have not been finalized, the Challenge is expected to be similar to the one between teams from the ACC and Big Ten Conference.
No schools will be left out, meaning two Pac-10 teams yearly will play two games against Big 12 squads.
"That will not be a problem. More than two teams (in the Pac-10) need games anyway," said KU senior associate athletic director Larry Keating, who said the Challenge's purpose was "to create (marquee) games between schools in two major conferences and help improve the schedule of (member) schools.
"It's important to make sure every school is involved," Keating added. "When Rick Barnes (Texas coach) was at Providence, one of the schools got left out every year (in the Big East/ACC Challenge). He said he would not agree to this unless every school was able to play in it. I give Rick credit for that. He knows there's nothing worse than for somebody to be left out."
KU's game in the first Big 12/Pac-10 Challenge could be the Jayhawks' return trip to Southern California, which is already on the 2007-08 schedule. Or it could be a matchup against Arizona at Allen Fieldhouse, with KU traveling to Tucson the following year.
"We've talked to them," Keating said of U of A officials.
"The biggest issue is doing these (Challenge) games as a home-and-home," Keating noted. "Once you allow someone (TV officials) to say, 'We want the No. 1 team in the Big 12 to play the No. 1 team in the Pac-10; the No. 2 team to play the No. 2 team; No. 3 to play No. 3,' it means you will not have a rematch the following year. Once that happens, there's a problem who gets to play at home and who away.
"If it's UCLA at Kansas one year and Kansas at Stanford the next and then they say, 'We want you to go to Arizona,' the following year, there's a problem in not getting a fair amount of home games. People are comfortable with ... they know how to deal with a home-and-home."
The Big 12/Pac-10 Challenge will likely not be condensed into a one-week period like the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
"I'd think nine or 10 games would be in a six- or seven-day period, but that's not a criteria of having the Challenge," Keating said. "Really, who cares (if they are all played the same week)? Maybe the guy at home keeping score, but that's it. That's not the reason this is being set up. It's for creating games between the two major conferences."
TV, of course, will have some say in the matchups, preferring KU play somebody like Arizona, USC or UCLA than, say, Oregon State. It's likely the home games of the Big 12 teams will be shown on ESPN and home games of the Pac-10 teams shown on FOX, the networks associated with those specific conferences.
As far as marquee games thus far on KU's schedule for the 2007-08 season, the Jayhawks will travel to USC, Boston College and Georgia Tech and meet DePaul at Allen Fieldhouse. KU completes its home-and-home with South Carolina this season and still needs to travel to Michigan State, likely in two years, to complete a home-and-home.
¢ Kaun's ankle OK: KU junior center Sasha Kaun, who sprained his left ankle at practice Thursday, was able to shoot on the side at practice Friday with no signs of a limp. He was to return to practice today and is expected to play in Tuesday's 7 p.m. home battle against Winston-Salem State.
¢ Simien sees specialist: Miami Heat coach Pat Riley on Thursday told the Miami media former KU forward Wayne Simien is now in New York receiving treatment for salmonella from a specialist. He's not expected to be back with the team anytime soon.