Within a minute of each other, the University at Albany and Siena College men’s basketball programs released Thursday their non-conference schedules.
That was by design.
That, they could agree to do.
“Once we came to the conclusion we came to, we felt it would be good to time up our releases at the same time,” UAlbany athletic director Mark Benson said.
“We worked together on that,” Siena athletic director John D’Argenio said. “I think that speaks to the collaborative effort we each put into all this.”
But all that effort didn’t result in a deal.
And that means UAlbany’s and Siena’s Albany Cup series — for both the men’s and women’s teams — will not continue in 2018.
The Capital Region’s two Division I basketball programs played every year from 2001 to 2017, but — as long anticipated — the schools could not agree on terms to keep the series going because of a disagreement over where the game should be played.
Siena’s contention has been the series should be played at its home Times Union Center, the arena in downtown Albany that has hosted 16 of the 17 Albany Cup matchups. That building has larger seating capacity than UAlbany’s SEFCU Arena, which Siena argues allows the most-anticipated game of the winter sports scene to draw the biggest possible crowd.
But UAlbany is no longer the Division I newcomer it was when the series started. It wants the series to rotate to its home arena on an every-other-year basis — or at least to have a “more equitable” arrangement between the programs.
“You can define equity in many ways, but if you look at the really good college rivalries around the country . . . each team’s home court is part of that series,” said Benson, whose school has won five of the last six men's Albany Cup games and the last eight on the women's side. “I think that’s important for our student-athletes, our campus community and our fans.”
Benson characterized his conversations with D’Argenio as “cordial and professional,” and said the two athletic directors spoke several times in the past week to try to come to a last-minute agreement. Those talks, though, didn’t necessarily include any new proposals.
“The conversations were more each of us describing our positions,” D’Argenio said. “It was more us trying to persuade the other more than anything else — but it was very collegial.”
“We were each trying to respect each other’s institution’s perspective,” Benson said. “That’s why the conversations continued for so long — and we know it’s an important part of the sports community here in the Capital Region. . . . We both acknowledge we want to work toward bringing the series back at some point.”
All along, Benson and D’Argenio said the men’s and women’s Albany Cup games were not necessarily tied to one another. That is still true, but those programs won’t meet this year.
UAlbany and Siena each start the 2018-19 men’s basketball season on Nov. 6. UAlbany does so at SEFCU Arena against SUNY Oneonta, while Siena travels to Providence. UAlbany’s 15-game non-conference slate includes its two-game trip to Belfast in late November, while Siena has a dozen games currently scheduled for its non-conference season. D’Argenio said the Saints will add one more game to their schedule before too long after leaving a spot open for a potential Albany Cup game.
“Our coaches have been talking to folks and there are still a lot of games to be had out there,” D’Argenio said.
But there will be no game this year between Siena and UAlbany to highlight each program’s non-conference schedule. Benson said renewing the series — for both the men and women — is possible for 2019.
“I think we’ve had constant dialogue for the last couple years over [the future of the Albany Cup],” Benson said. “I don’t expect that to change. I don’t think a cooling off period [in negotiations] is needed. It’s definitely a game we’d want to play under the right conditions.”
The programs, though, couldn’t agree this time on what those “right conditions” were in order to continue playing each other despite a year’s worth of negotiations.
“There’s no acrimony, though, about not wanting to talk again,” D’Argenio said. “We talk frequently and I’m sure every time we talk we’ll bring up what we think about the game and how we could do it.”
“There’s no bad blood. There’s no animosity,” Benson said. “Even though we didn’t come to an agreement, all our conversations were very good.
“And we’ll continue to do that.”
SIENA NON-CONFERENCE SCHEDULE
Nov. 6: at Providence
Nov. 8: at George Washington
Nov. 16: vs. Norfolk State, at Mohegan Sun Arena
Nov. 17/18: vs. Stony Brook/Holy Cross, at Mohegan Sun Arena
Nov. 21: vs. Lehigh
Nov. 24: vs. Colgate
Nov. 28: at Hofstra
Dec. 5: at St. Bonaventure
Dec. 12: at Robert Morris
Dec. 18: vs. Charleston
Dec. 22: vs. Holy Cross
Dec. 29: vs. Cal Poly
UALBANY NON-CONFERENCE SCHEDULE
Nov. 6: vs. Oneonta
Nov. 9: at Iona
Nov. 14: vs. Boston
Nov. 17: at Canisius
Nov. 20: vs. Holy Cross
Nov. 23: at UW-Milwaukee
Nov. 29: vs. LIU Brooklyn, at Belfast, Northern Ireland
Nov. 30: vs. Dartmouth/Marist, at Belfast, Northern Ireland
Dec. 8: vs. Monmouth
Dec. 11: at Yale
Dec. 15: vs. Dartmouth
Dec. 18: at Providence
Dec. 20: vs. Manhattan
Dec. 28: at Kent State
Dec. 31: at Niagara