Scott Dochterman/Land of 10
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery answers questions after the Hawkeyes beat Drake 90-64 at the Hy-Vee Classic in Des Moines on Saturday.

Here’s status of Iowa’s basketball classic for 2018 and beyond

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ANSWER: One of the more talked-about subjects in Iowa the last few weeks is the Hy-Vee Classic, which includes the state’s four Division I basketball schools: Iowa, Iowa State, Northern Iowa and Drake. The schools formerly played in an annual round-robin on campuses before Iowa and Iowa State pulled the plug after the 2011 season.

In 2012, the schools began playing a one-day event in Des Moines. One season, Iowa faces Drake and Iowa State plays Northern Iowa, and it rotates the next. In 2016, the schools agreed to a four-year extension that’s up after the 2019 classic, which will be held Dec. 21, 2019.

Iowa-Big-4 Classic
A clause in the Big 4 contract allows Iowa to pull out of the annual classic before 2019.

There is a clause in the contract where if one of the schools’ leagues expands its schedule and the number of required games jumps to 22, then that school can withdraw from the classic by giving 18 months notice. The Big Ten recently increased its schedule to 20 games, beginning with the 2018-19 season. With an annual game in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge, plus a regular appearance in the Gavitt Games (Big Ten vs. Big East), Iowa qualifies for that withdrawal.

Would it exercise that clause for the final year?

“I haven’t talked about that after this,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “I just play the games that are on the schedule. We’ve got UNI next year, that’s all I know. They’re going to be good.”

The previous round-robin was popular with basketball fans, and it was unusual. In Kentucky, for instance, you wouldn’t see Kentucky and Louisville playing at Murray State and Western Kentucky every other year. But it happened at Iowa. Then it ended because, well, Power 5 schools don’t want to play road games at mid-majors, especially those with an incredible home-court advantage such as at Northern Iowa.

With the Big Ten expanding to 20 league games, an extension is unlikely. There’s no way Iowa will play at Drake or Northern Iowa in the near future. So enjoy the Hy-Vee Classic next year and possibly in 2019 because it’s probably coming to an end.

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