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BYU basketball: Anti-LDS behavior addressed at San Diego State

Published: Thursday, Jan. 28 2010 8:30 p.m. MST

The debate over what constitutes religious prejudice at BYU road games kept itself alive this week when athletic officials at New Mexico tried to preempt anti-religious chants or mock dress-up from fans Wednesday night at The Pit, where they put out the word before tipoff for students to keep it classy.

Meanwhile, San Diego State officials have been very responsive to complaints from BYU fans and members of the LDS Church who took the time to complain about religious taunts that cropped up at a Cougar-Aztec game in San Diego last Saturday.

The issue received widespread coverage when Sports Illustrated columnist Seth Davis criticized SDSU after that game for fan behavior.

According to BYU fan Sid Sperry, he received an e-mail from SDSU's interim athletic director when he complained about student chants of "You're still Mormon," and a sign that read: "Jimmer, which wife gave you mono," in the arena at San Diego last Saturday. Some students also dressed up as LDS missionaries with white shirts, name tags and bike helmets.

In the e-mail, interim SDSU athletic director Don Oberhelman told Sperry that SDSU officials plan on addressing student section conduct in an upcoming student council session.

"I don't condone or approve of some of the actions of our student section and apologize to anyone who was in attendance that was offended," said Oberhelman.

"Free expression sometimes comes with the price tag of potentially offending someone in the audience. While a small number of students may have crossed the line in their endeavors to be funny and creative, I caution you to not paint all Aztecs with the same brush, as I believe the overwhelming majority of our fans treat visitors with great respect."

He continued, "We will be addressing the student section as a whole and we have engaged a dialogue with student government and the leaders of the student section to improve our game atmosphere and ensure a safe and friendly environment. As a whole, the level of competition in basketball this year is the best in the league's history, and I am proud of our affiliation with BYU through membership in the Mountain West Conference and feel it is a wonderful partnership."

e-mail: dharmon@desnews.com

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