HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says it is time for the University of Connecticut and Boston College to put hard feelings behind them and work to re-establish an important New England rivalry on the football field and basketball court.
In an interview with The Associated Press Thursday, Malloy, an alumnus of Boston College, said he has expressed those sentiments in talks over the past year with Boston College President William Leahy.
The two schools have been at odds since Boston College left the Big East to join the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2005, and the state of Connecticut led a lawsuit over the move.
‘‘The reality is that time has the ability to heal all wounds, and hopefully we move forward,’’ said Malloy. ‘‘Economically, it makes great sense. The schools are 80 miles apart. Instead of a plane trip, it’s a bus ride. We should be doing more of that, not less.’’
The two schools last played football in 2004 and last played a men’s basketball game in January 2005. Boston College is 10-0-2 against the Huskies in football, while UConn leads the basketball series, 54-35.
Shortly after BC announced its plans to join the ACC, Connecticut basketball coach Jim Calhoun said he would never play the Eagles again as long as he coached the Huskies.
But last fall, amid a national shakeup of athletic conference, Malloy acknowledged that UConn had an interest in moving to the ACC.
Boston College Athletic Director Gene DeFilippo told the Boston Globe that he had blocked the move, saying it was a matter of ‘‘turf.’’
He later issued a public apology, saying ‘‘while I harbor some ill feelings toward the University of Connecticut regarding the lawsuit, depositions and derogatory comments from UConn officials when we announced our decision to join the ACC, it was inappropriate to express personal feelings that might have been construed as the position of Boston College or the Atlantic Coast Conference.’’
Malloy said that whatever happens with the ACC, the two schools should realize that playing each other, as they already do in many other sports, would benefit both schools and the entire region. UMass, which recently upgraded its football program, is the only other BCS school in New England.
Connecticut is now in talks that would have its men’s hockey program join Boston College in Hockey East.
‘‘Both schools have done and said things that need to be left in the past, and both schools need to move forward,’’ Malloy said. ‘‘They need to move forward in what is the best interest of their schools, their student body and their athletic programs.’’
The timing may be right.
Warde Manuel, UConn’s new athletic director, and DeFilippo say they are friends, and plan to meet soon to talk about the relationship. Manuel said the two had been scheduled to sit on a panel together recently, but DeFilippo had a scheduling conflict.
‘‘I come in with a mindset that it would be good for us and good for them if we can get back to having a solid relationship between the two institutions,’’ said Manuel, who took over the program in March. ‘‘I know that (UConn) President (Susan) Herbst would like that and it’s one of the things that at the time when we can, Gene and I will have a conversation and I’ll get a sense from him on how he feels about it. But, from my perspective, I don’t harbor any ill feelings about Boston College and I think highly of the program, highly of the institution and I would hope that we could overcome issues from the past.’’