"Scheduling has changed dramatically for college basketball. You would have to pay three teams a two-game guarantee (for playing in the UKIT)," Mullens said. "This year we are paying Eastern Kentucky $50,000 for one game (on Dec. 29). Small schools now make their budget playing big schools. We would be out $300,000 for two days.
"I wish we could have the UKIT back. I know a lot of fans do, too. But I don't know if we could ever get the level of competition fans would want to see, either. What we do is try to schedule home games in Rupp Arena when the students are gone so more tickets are available for non-season ticket holders."
Kentucky did end its contract to play a game each year in Cincinnati this season. However, Mullens said that could change in the future.
"Cincinnati is an area that is very important to us. I could see us back in the near future," Mullens said.
What about a matchup with Cincinnati or Xavier?
"We would like to be in Cincinnati, but I don't know how (coach) Tubby (Smith) would feel about playing Xavier or Cincinnati where their fans could buy up all the tickets," Mullens said.
Getting dates at Freedom Hall "has been a struggle"
Mullens also hopes the problems that forced UK officials to move the game against Indiana from Lousiville's Freedom Hall to Rupp Arena can be solved in future years. The rivals have alternated games in Louisville and Indianapolis with each school receiving 50 percent of the tickets. With this season's game in Rupp Arena, Indiana will have the option to play the 2007 game at its home arena in Bloomington.
"In January of 2003 we tried to sign a four-year deal with Indiana that would include two game in Freedom Hall, but Freedom Hall couldn't release the dates," Mullens said. "It has been a struggle to get dates in Freedom Hall."
He cited how UK had to play Austin Peay on New Year's Eve in 2003 at Freedom Hall or last year had to play Iona on Dec. 23 rather than a day or two earlier as Smith wanted in order to give his team a longer holiday break.
"We feel it is important to have a game in Freedom Hall, but it has been a struggle to get dates for all the games, including Indiana," Mullens said.
What about just forgetting about a game in Freedom Hall because of the scheduling hassles?
"It's a great tradition when we play Indiana the way we have. The special thing about this game is that you get a late March-like tournament atmosphere in early December," Mullens said. "When you talk to the coaches and players, there is a cheer or boo on every play. It is just special.
"Assembly Hall (in Bloomington) and Rupp Arena are two great venues for college basketball, so it's still going to be a great event. But when you split the tickets down the middle, you get a Florida-Georgia type football game in basketball that no one else has been able to duplicate."
Expect conflict with high school playoff football games
Mullens expects UK's complete schedule to be released soon. However, expect several conflicts with high school playoff football games in November. Mullens says UK would prefer to avoid those nights but sometimes has no other options.
"We have a Friday night game scheduled for Nov. 17 because we leave for Maui the next day and had to squeeze that date in," Mullens said. "We are very aware of the high school playoffs. But we have so many factors to consider. This year is hard because we are going to Maui. You cut out a week's worth of scheduling. But the trip only counts as one game because it is an exempt event.
"We play three games, but count it as one. We lose a week's worth of dates. That's what makes it tough to still get in all the games and why sometimes we can't avoid a Friday night playoff conflict."