LEXINGTON, Ky. – In light of recent disasters around the country, UK Athletics will play a small part in helping those affected by adding a third men’s basketball exhibition game to Kentucky’s 2017-18 schedule. The NCAA has granted a special waiver for the Wildcats to host Morehead State.
UK will host the Eagles – coached by former Kentucky staff member Preston Spradlin – for the inaugural “Kentucky Cares Classic” on Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. in Rupp Arena to raise funds for those affected by the devastating hurricanes in Florida and Puerto Rico and wildfires in California.
“People around our country are facing some trying and tragic circumstances,” Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said. “I am thankful for the leadership of John Calipari and our men’s basketball program and the partnership of Morehead State in putting this game together to make a small but important impact. I look forward to seeing the members of the Big Blue Nation unite behind their Wildcats, as they always do.”
Net proceeds from the game will go to Team Rubicon, a non-government 501(c)(3) organization that unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams. Team Rubicon is currently active in Florida in response to hurricanes in Florida and Puerto Rico and is soon to begin work in response to wildfires in California.
“I want to thank Morehead State and its staff for coming together on this so quickly,” Calipari said. “This was an opportunity for us to do some good that we just couldn’t pass up. With everything that’s happened in and around our country the last couple of months, I felt like we needed to do more to give back and make an impact on the countless number of people who have suffered at the hands of the recent natural disasters.
“For us, it’s an easy thing to put on and an even easier thing for fans of both our programs to enjoy. Buy a ticket and see us in our first Division I game. There is no television so you have to be in the building to watch.
“I know I have asked the Big Blue Nation to step up on different occasions, like the Teaming Up For Texas telethon where we raised $1 million, but we have an opportunity to do more and we need to take advantage. I’m hopeful the Morehead State fan base will help us rally around a unified cause to help impact others. I’ll be disappointed if the building isn’t sold out because every dollar goes towards people who really need our help.”
The Kentucky Cares Classic will not be televised or streamed, but the game will be broadcast on radio on the UK Sports Network and its affiliates. More radio broadcast information will be announced at a later date.
Tickets for the game will go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. online at Ticketmaster.com and by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000. Fans may also purchase in person at the Rupp Arena box office. Tickets will range from $10 to $100 with net proceeds going to victims of the recent natural disasters. A full breakdown of the ticket pricing is below.
- Lower premium – $100
- Lower sideline – $50
- Lower corner/end – $30
- 200-Level sideline (first 12 rows) – $20
- 200-Level standard – $10
Men’s Basketball season ticket holders and UK students will have access to a special pre-sale that begins on Thursday at 10 a.m. and runs through 10 p.m. online at Ticketmaster.com. Tickets will not be available through the UK Ticket Office for this event. Season ticket holders and students will receive an email on Thursday morning with an exclusive offer code and link to purchase during the pre-sale. Morehead State constituents and Rupp Arena’s “First in Line” subscribers will also receive access to purchase tickets during Thursday’s pre-sale.
With the addition of this game, UK’s previously scheduled student ticket lottery for the Virginia Tech, Louisville, Georgia, and Texas A&M games will be rescheduled from Oct. 30 to Sunday evening, Oct. 29 at Memorial Coliseum. UK students will receive further information about the ticket lottery later this week. For more information, visit UKStudentTix.com.
Team Rubicon’s primary mission is to provide relief to those affected by natural disasters. Proceeds from the UK-Morehead State game will have a specific focus on the recovery efforts in Florida, California and Puerto Rico. Hurricanes Irma and Maria recently ravaged the Caribbean, while northern California has been devastated by raging wildfires.
UK’s exhibition game vs. Morehead State will take place between the Wildcats’ previously scheduled exhibition games vs. Thomas More College (Oct. 27) and Centre College (Nov. 3). The UK-Morehead State matchup will present a rare matchup of two Division I teams in a public setting for an exhibition game.
The two schools last played in the regular season in November 2012 with UK owning a 10-0 all-time advantage.
Not only will the exhibition games pair a couple of in-state schools for charity, it will also be a homecoming of sorts for Morehead State’s Spradlin. Spradlin spent five seasons at Kentucky, first as a graduate assistant (2010-11) and then as the assistant director of basketball operations (2012-14).
Spradlin joined Morehead State as an assistant during the 2014-15 season before taking over as the interim head coach in December. He was awarded the full-time position after guiding Morehead State out of a 2-7 start to a second-place finish in the Ohio Valley Conference.
“This is one of those situations where everybody wins,” Spradlin said. “I think both teams will benefit from having an extra game early in our season and our practice schedules, and I think the fans will really enjoy it, and of course the real winner out of all this is charity. Our country has been plagued by many natural disasters lately, so the opportunity to use our sport and the passion for basketball in Kentucky really will pay it forward to the people throughout our country.”
Earlier this season, UK, along with John and Ellen Calipari and Joe and Kelly Craft, teamed up to raise $1 million (with matching funds) to assist victims of Hurricane Harvey. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the “Teaming Up For Texas” telethon went to the American Red Cross to aid in the relief efforts in Texas.