UConn will be missing the boat in 2013, or vice versa. The Carrier Classic, the version in which UConn had a memo of understanding to play, will likely be featuring Marquette and Ohio State. UConn pulled out of the game about a month ago, according to the game’s promoter.
ESPN has reported that Ohio State and Marquette were in negiations to play on the aircraft carrier Yorktown off Charleston, S.C., in November. The Columbus Dispatch reported a deal was near.
Late Friday Mike Whalen, head of Morale Entertainment, the game’s promoter, told The Courant, “I want to make this clear – UConn pulled out. We stood by UConn. We were blind-sided. We were disappointed, we had to scramble.”
North Carolina and Michigan State played in the first Carrier Classic last November, played on the Carl Vinson off San Diego. By all appearances, the game was a rousing success, as UConn agreed to play there in 2012. But there were issues behind the scenes, and things began to break down. San Diego officials decided to stage their own game, lining up Syracuse and San Diego State. When the Morale’s original Carrier Classic was then moved to the East Coast, Arizona, which was considered the likely match for UConn on the West Coast, was no longer interested.
As weeks wore on, with no opponent in place, UConn officials began to grow more pessimistic about the game. Whalen said he had trouble finding a team that wanted to play UConn, or one UConn would accept. No one at UConn would say if the school was officially pulling out of the game.
Whalen said he would like to expand the Carrier Classic into the tournament in the future and still hopes to get UConn involved.