Last weekend, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reduced the minimum age for serving a mission. Immediately following the announcement church members lit up newsfeeds with excitement. Sport fans were even excited about the change and wondered what it meant for BYU athletics.
The most prevailing logic is that male student athletes will serve a mission before ever enrolling. This way their 4-5 years in the athletic program won’t be interrupted by missionary service.
BYU commit and ESPN 100 recruit Nick Emery was very happy with the news.
“It’s a huge benefit to all the recruits… This gives you two years extra to mature yourself and get ready for that situation, it all sets it up perfect,” Emery said.
The players may love the change, but coaches are worrying about the future.
“It will definitely have an immediate impact on our program…There are just so many different dynamics that we’re looking at to try to find the best solution for everybody,” said Joe DuPaix, runningback coach and recruiting coordinator for football.
Time will tell if the changes will benefit or hurt the programs, but it does have head Women’s Basketball coach Jeff Judkins looking ahead to changes. “It could affect my next few classes when it comes down to it. The girls might like to do what the boys have done, come a year, then go on a mission,” said Judkins.
The athletic department reminded me that so soon after the rule change there is no way to know how individual recruits will be affected. The decision when and if to serve a mission, as always, is left to the athlete.