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Archive for Thursday, February 19, 2004

Representative says momentum growing for Kansas-Wichita State matchup

February 19, 2004

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— A House bill that would require the University of Kansas men's basketball team to play Wichita State University started off almost as a joke, Rep. Todd Novascone told the House Higher Education Committee on Wednesday.

But soon after word of his proposed bill got out, the Wichita Republican said he started receiving support from people who think a Kansas-WSU matchup is a good idea.

"I know that many people think that this bill and even this hearing today is a waste of taxpayers' money, but I don't agree," he said. "Everyone will remember these two games. The sports bars will be packed, the media will be at a frenzied level, and fans for both sides will be enthusiastic for the games."

The University of Kansas estimates that it could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in television revenues if the Jayhawks are forced to play Wichita State. When told of that figure, Novascone laughed and said he thought it was a joke. Committee chairman Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, assured him that's the amount the university gave.

The schools have not played since the 1992-93 season. They have met 14 times, with Kansas winning 12.

The measure, which requires the two teams to play once in 2005-06 and again in 2006-07, started off as a tourism bill.

Novascone said Georgia and Iowa legislatures have passed similar laws requiring teams within those states to compete, and Oklahoma passed a resolution urging the University of Oklahoma to play Tulsa.

Novascone said the most negative thing he's heard about the bill came in an e-mail from someone who called him an idiot.

"I've got that one hanging on my wall," he said.

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