Reversal of ‘BYU rule’ leaves many disappointed

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    By ESTHER YU

    Many BYU faculty members expressed disappointment over the NCAA decision eliminating the 35-year-old rule known as the “BYU rule.” The decision made last Wednesday lifts the ban on Sunday play in most postseason tournaments.

    This means BYU teams will be eliminated prematurely from tournaments because it is against LDS church policy to play on Sunday.

    Though there used to be other schools opposed to playing on Sundays, Campbell University, a Baptist school in Buies Creek, N.C., is now the only other school that has a Sunday policy affected by this decision.

    President Merrill J. Bateman issued an official response to the decision. “We are disappointed that the NCAA Division I Board was not willing to continue with its long-standing policy that allowed some flexibility with regard to Sunday play. The discouraging aspect of this is that BYU will have teams that will qualify for postseason competition and may not be able to play. It’s unfortunate the NCAA is not willing to continue with a program that has worked well the last 35 years.”

    BYU baseball coach Gary Pullins doesn’t think the ruling will greatly affect baseball because so many other baseball games continue throughout the week. However, he said there is still that chance.

    “It is disappointing to everybody. I have had coaches at different universities say that they don’t know why they play on Sunday because it should be a day to let their players off. They end up using Monday as a travel day and missing classes,” Pullins said.

    Other faculty members in the BYU athletics department also believe the Sunday ruling could be a disappointment to teams outside of BYU.

    “(Having Sunday off) gives them time to come home and prepare for the week … furthermore, coaches are already under pressure with travel and competition that Sundays are the only day that they can be at home with their families,” said BYU Athletic Director Rondo Fehlberg.

    The Sunday ruling may not even have much of an impact on increasing publicity for many sports.

    “Its nonsense,” said BYU men’s track coach Willard Hirschi. “There is no reason to be holding competition on a Sunday. There is no money to be made in track and field as a television sport.”

    Besides preventing BYU teams from playing in postseason tournament, the decision could affect BYU’s ability to recruit. The non-member athletes that BYU has recruited in the past may choose to attend another school where they can compete with other teams where this decision is not made by the school.

    BYU’s golf team has had several non-member teammates on its squad who may choose to go to another school where they will be allowed to compete for the national championship.

    In an official BYU statement, Fehlberg stated, “While we expect this ruling to have little immediate impact on football and men’s basketball, we are worried that a number of our Olympic sports could be immediately affected. This decision, although disappointing, will have no effect on BYU’s policies against Sunday competition.

    BYU has the right to appeal the rule change and is considering its options.

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