The Backyard Brawl, one of the best rivalries in all of college basketball, faces an uncertain future following the 2020-21 season.
The Mountaineers and Panther are scheduled to play on another on Nov. 13, 2020 at the WVU Coliseum, but no future meetings are planned beyond that. Talking with reporters Wednesday morning, WVU director of athletics, Shane Lyons, said extending the series is a priority for him.
“I’d love to see it continued,” Lyons said. “I’ve had multiple conversations with (athletic director) Heather Lyke at Pitt. One after our last game up there in November when we played and knowing (2020) was going to be the last year. I think she’s on the same page as me and talking to (WVU) Coach (Bob) Huggins, we’d love to see that series continue.”
The Backyard Brawl was in Pittsburgh this season, with the Mountaineers winning 68-53 on Nov. 15. WVU freshman Oscar Tshiebwe posted a 20 point, 17 rebound double-double in what was just his second official college game. After the win, WVU coach Bob Huggins talked about how important the game is for both programs.
“It’s been such a great game for so many years and it’s been such a great rivalry for so many years,” Huggins said at the time. “The reality is, we don’t need them and they don’t need us, really. It’s not like either one of us can’t find other games, it’s not that. You can’t find meaningful games, like this is, for the fan base.”
The basketball Backyard Brawl took a five-year hiatus following the realignment of the Big East in 2012, but the teams have matched up every season since 2017. The football Backyard Brawl has been dormant since 2011, but is scheduled to return with a four-game series from 2022-2025.
Lyons said dealing with the recent coronavirus outbreak has taken the department’s full attention, otherwise extending the Backyard Brawl is at the top of their list.
“We will be in discussions with Pitt and talking about extending that series. Unfortunately, all this (coronavirus outbreak) has taken all of our time, dealing with the pandemic,” Lyons explained. “That’s definitely something that’s going to be on the list, to extend that series.”