The University of Utah will play its first football team of the season on Thursday. The school will face Montana State University on the evening of September 1.

The game, which marks the school’s debut in the Pac-12 athletic conference, is apparently a big deal. Big enough to cancel classes. According to an article by Brian Maffly in the Salt Lake Tribune:

To avoid campus gridlock, University of Utah administrators have canceled classes on the afternoon and evening of Sept. 1, when the Utes make their debut as a Pac-12 football program.

“It’s a recognition of the reality that the stadium is now filling for every game,” said David Pershing, the U.’s senior vice president for academic affairs. “Any game that occurs on weeknights gives us huge parking and transportation issues. Last year [for the Sept. 2 game against Pittsburgh], we did not cancel classes and it proved to be a nightmare.” Pershing, who announced the cancellation [last] Wednesday, stressed that academics remain more important than athletics at the U.

It certainly might be a reasonable solution, but it does indicate something pretty obvious about the school’s priorities. Utah is canceling classes, which are academics, in order to avoid problems with parking for an athletic event.

The study body president, Neela Pack, said that the cancellation made sense. “It would be counterproductive [to hold classes] when there’s so much noise, traffic and people missing,” she said to Maffly.

She pointed out that the school also canceled classes for a U2 concert last year. That also seems like a curious decision for an academic institution to make.

Montana State is not a Pac-12 rival.

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer