Legislators call for Tennessee, Memphis to renew rivalry in football & men’s basketball

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Tennessee forward Drew Pember (3) dunks the ball over Memphis center Malcolm Dandridge (23) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A pair of Memphis legislators have introduced a joint resolution calling for the University of Memphis and the University of Tennessee to play each other in football and men’s basketball each year.

Senator Brian Kelsey and Representative Antonio Parkinson are sponsoring SJR 881. The resolution calls for the Vols and Tigers to play on the field and the court at least once during their regular seasons.

“Tennessee fans deserve to have the best football team determined not on talk radio, but on the gridiron,” Kelsey said. “While Coach Hardaway welcomes playing the University of Tennessee in basketball, Coach Calipari strongly opposed the idea, and future coaches could do the same.”

“These are major Tennessee teams. While coaches may come and go, there is no reason these teams should not face each other every year or that such contests be omitted from their schedules.”

The Tennessee and Memphis men’s basketball teams met this season on Dec. 14. The No. 13 Tigers won 51-47 in Knoxville. The two football teams have not met since 2010.

Memphis guard Boogie Ellis (5) passes the ball off as he’s defended by Tennessee guard Jordan Bowden (23) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

“I had a brief informal conversation with UT President Randy Boyd about this matter,” Parkinson said. “I think he gets the importance of this rivalry for our state, and the economic impact it will provide.”

The legislation would be effective for the football teams beginning in the 2025-2026 seasons to provide for advanced scheduling.

“The fan base remains strong in Tennessee and wants to see this matchup every season,” Kelsey said, “Tennessee fans deserve to see the two oldest programs in the state battle it out every year.”

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