By Logan Molyneux
BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe said his goal is for the athletic department to be “in alignment” with the university and, ultimately, the Church.
“The key word in all of our meetings is ”alignment,”” Holmoe said at a brown-bag question-and-answer session in the Wilkinson Center Thursday, Mar. 30. 2006. “I”m in alignment with President Samuelson and my coaches are expected to be in alignment with me.”
Holmoe took questions from faculty members on topics related to the tenuous relationship between athletics and academics, but also addressed honor code violations and Title IX issues.
In response to faculty questions, Holmoe explained at length the process for student athlete admissions and retention, focusing on programs and policies he has instituted since being named athletic director last year. He said some students just aren”t a good fit at BYU, and therefore should not be recruited.
“We have problems with non-LDS players and we have problems with LDS players,” Holmoe said. “Just because they”re LDS doesn”t mean they”re aligned with the University or with the Church, for that matter. We try to address that before they get here.”
Holmoe said that head football coach Bronco Mendenhall sometimes calls the bishop of players he would like to recruit to get the bishop”s opinion about the player coming to BYU. For non-LDS players, he said the school has hired a chaplain to have an interview with the student here on campus and educate them about the honor code and the penalties associated with breaking it.
“Does that scare off some kids? Yeah,” Holmoe said. “But that”s self selection. They might not have been a good fit here anyway.”
Another method of selection Holmoe has stressed has been the use of an Estimated Grade Point Average in making admissions decisions. BYU uses a cross between a student”s high school GPA and the student”s ACT score to determine an EGPA. Holmoe said students who have an EGPA below 2.1 have less than a 7 percent chance of graduating.
“Since we drew that line, we haven”t brought in anyone below that,” he said. “We”ve trained the coaches that there”s a certain fit here. Some of the coaches freaked out when they heard about that limit, but it”s hard to disagree with numbers that low.”
Two faculty members had specific concerns about plagiarism among student athletes. Though one pointed out that plagiarism violations may be as common among student athletes as among other students, both seemed to think the added pressures on student athletes to perform or an inherent competitive nature may have led them to plagiarize.
Holmoe said honor code violations by student athletes are handled in the same way as with any other student – report it to the honor code office, who will take the appropriate action. Once the honor code office has made a decision, he said, the athletics department abides by it.
“I”m gonna know every student that has an honor code violation,” Holmoe said. “If we lose a kid for a big game because of that, it hurts us. So we”re motivated to keep it under control.”
He said he hopes there is now better communication in the athletic department so that most of the problems can be dealt with internally before the media get wind of the problem.
Holmoe said club associations and extramural sports, such as men”s soccer, rugby and lacrosse, are not violations of Title IX because the university has so little to do with them. He said the NCAA hasn”t contacted him about the programs.
Holmoe closed by saying he”d like to have similar question-and-answer sessions on a somewhat regular basis, hoping to bridge the perceived gap between academics and athletics.