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Pitt Backs Down from City Game Pledge, Won’t Play Duquesne in 2020

Pitt Backs Down from City Game Pledge, Won’t Play Duquesne in 2020

The City Game will not return in the 2020, despite both Duquesne and Pitt agreeing in principle to playing the game a year ago.

Pitt head coach Jeff Capel told the Tribune-Review on Thursday that Duquesne will not be on Pitt’s schedule this upcoming season, but declined to elaborate.

Duquesne head coach Keith Dambrot told Pittsburgh Sports Now that any hesitation to not play the game did not comes from the Dukes.

“We’ll play anywhere,” he said. “We’ll play in their building for nothing. It’s good for the city. It’s good for our program. It just may not be good for their program.”

The game not being scheduled comes despite a joint March announcement from athletic directors Heather Lyke and Dave Harper.

“The City Game is a time honored basketball tradition in the city of Pittsburgh,” Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke said in March 2019. “Unfortunately, our men’s basketball scheduling dynamics will not allow us to play the game in 2019. We look forward to resuming the game with great anticipation in 2020 and 2021.”

Despite Lyke’s insistence that the game would be played, Capel has repeatedly cast doubt on the game’s future.

“I have involvement in my schedule,” Capel said when asked about the lack of a 2019 game in December. “It’s my schedule, so I have involvement in that. I had a lot of involvement in the scheduling, but there were some things that happened that we decided not to play them this year.”

“It’s something going forward, that we could do, but that’s a decision that will be made by me after our season is over with this year,” Capel said in a radio interview two days later.

“I’m not afraid to play anyone. Nobody. So let’s just get that out there. I’m not afraid to play anyone. But as the leader of our program, as the caretaker of this program, my job is to do what’s best for my program.”

The City Game has been played 87 times and Pitt leads the series, 55-32. The last playing of the game in 2018 drew 12,246 to PPG Paints Arena, which had been the home of the game since 2010. Before that, it was played in alternating campus venues from 2002 to 2008 and Civic Arena from 1990 to 2001 and 2009.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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