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Future of Xavier-Dayton rivalry uncertain

Xavier Athletic Director Greg Christopher said the school’s move to the Big East means his men’s basketball team doesn’t have room in its nonleague schedule for Dayton for at least the next two years, which isn’t something Flyer fans wanted to hear.

But even if the longtime rivals don’t hook up again, UD coach Archie Miller believes his program won’t have any trouble finding quality matchups in the Atlantic 10 that will generate the same intensity over time.

In a monthly “Ask the AD” segment posted online by Xavier, Christopher was quizzed about the X-UD series, which began in 1920 and usually included two games per season (sometimes three) every year since World War II.

He replied: “I’m going to talk out of both sides of my mouth. On one hand, the rivalries like Xavier-Cincinnati and Xavier-Dayton, that’s what makes college athletics so great — the passion and energy that comes from that. The other side is, obviously, we’ve got to do what’s best for Xavier. You have to have a balance of both.”

The Musketeers will play 18 times in the Big East this year and already have a handful of home-and-away series games, which is why they’re reluctant to make more commitments.

“Obviously, we would like to talk to Dayton — because I’d be disappointed personally if that was a game that went away long-term,” said Christopher, who spent six years as Bowling Green’s AD before being hired in March. “But as far as when we get them back, I think there are balls in the air, so to speak.”

Christopher also was asked next about Big East expansion, and he said: “That’s a good segue from the Dayton conversation.”

Christopher is certain the Big East will grow from 10 to 12 teams, although he’s not clear about the time frame.

Asked about the schools being discussed, he said: “I don’t think I’m telling anyone who follows this (something) they don’t already know. Saint Louis, Dayton, Richmond and VCU are the four schools that always get mentioned. The last part I’ll say is this decision is going to be made at the presidents’ level, and, frankly, that’s how it should be.

“Whether that’s a year from now, two years from now, three years from now, I think it will be on the presidents’ agenda and will be something they talk through.”

UD basketball coach Archie Miller is confident the rivalry eventually will be renewed and said he understands Xavier’s dilemma. But he also was emphatic that the A-10 schedule still packs plenty of sizzle — especially considering the Flyers will host the three NCAA tournaments from the league last year, La Salle, VCU and Saint Louis.

La Salle won three games in the tourney and reached the Sweet 16, while VCU and Saint Louis advanced to the round of 32.

“VCU is one of the hottest programs in the country. I’m really happy to compete against them. You won’t find a more exciting game in the country when they roll in,” Miller said. “Same thing with Saint Louis. I remember two years ago, that game felt like a heavyweight bout in our arena.

“There’s obviously these unique games that are going to be set up with hype, and if you can deliver on those games, it creates a new rivalry.”

As far as Christopher’s take on Big East expansion, Miller said: “Without being privy to a lot of information, I think the writing is on the wall underground. They will expand next year or expand in the 2014-15 season. And I do believe we’re in that mix.

“I think we’d have a great opportunity if it presents itself. Our administration has worked hard. Our commitment to basketball is right in line with a lot of those programs. But if not, I’m sure we’ll keep investing in our program here and become the best we can be in whatever league we’re in.”

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