Cats to play Middle Tennessee

Kentucky has added Middle Tennessee to its 2008 schedule in place of Akron.

The Wildcats were scheduled to play Akron Sept. 13 in their third game of the season. However, Akron wanted out of the game and Rob Mullens, UK's deputy director of athletics, confirmed at 1:15 p.m. today that Middle Tennessee would now be UK's Sept. 13 opponent after the Wildcats play Louisville and Norfolk State the previous two weeks.

Because of the timing, UK had to offer Middle Tennesse a substantial incentive to play in Lexington. Sources say it is $700,000 and Mullens would not deny the figure was not far off.

"As much as it pains me to tell you, it would not be far off," Mullens said. "Absolutely it cost more because of the timing. It's a significant amount more than normal. But Middle Tennessee will be a very good opponent and we are happy to have them on the schedule."

What complicated the issue even more for UK is that it still needs a game on Sept. 27 to replace one originally set with Temple.

Mullens wants to leave Sept. 20 open to avoid a conflict with the Ryder Cup in Louisville that same weekend.

Kentucky also has an open date Nov. 22 that comes after the Cats play seven straight SEC games and before they end the season Nov. 29 at Tennessee. Mullens said today he could not see a scenario where UK would play Nov. 22 and have open dates both Sept. 20 and 27.

"I don't see any way we would do that," he said. "The Temple issue created some stuff, so we are having to move things around to try and make it work," he said. "It creates a bit of a shell game. We were left in a bit of a tough situation, so we are trying to make all the pieces fit.

"It has caused a lot of issues for us. It has cut into our renewal timeline. Our goal was to have the schedule done weeks ago. Unfortunately, we were put in this predicament and any day now is our goal to be finished, but it has been for a while."

Mullens says the contract with Louisville calls for the game to be played Aug. 30. The Cardinals wanted to move the game to Monday, a move UK nixed.

While athletics director Mitch Barnhart is handling the Louisville specifics, Mullens says playing the game on Sunday, Aug. 31, remains "in the mix" depending on TV.

However, don't look for any Thursday night games at Commonwealth Stadium any time soon.

" We would love the exposure but the parking area is utilized as hospital parking, student parking, commuter parking. It has a lot of functions during the week," Mullens said. "It is not to say we wouldn't love to try it at some point, but there would be a lot of planning and a lot of logistics involved with parking being the biggest challenge to us hosting a Thursday night game."

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