Guest commentary: It’s OK if BYU fans want to pay for a church football team
BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall has levied a similar critique, asking, “Why not say nobody breaks off unless they are operating in the black?” Fairly compensating the players for what they do sounds great, but for a program that already is breaking the bank to keep up, where is all this new money coming from?
BYU appears to be one of the few programs out there able to show some restraint as it lives within its means. Despite that financial disadvantage, the Cougars still manage to field competitive, entertaining teams. BYU will never out-Oregon Oregon with shiny new buildings, but the Cougars get what they need (and it’s getting to the point that they really need that basketball practice facility so hopefully that comes soon).
While some fans love to raise conspiracy theories of BYU’s athletics funding, we’re told that the Cougars are self-funding. Donors, endowments, ticket sales, TV revenue and the church permission are what allow the program to operate.
Yes, BYU recently shut down BYU-Hawaii athletics. Last year, their entire athletics revenue was a shade over $2.5 million, according to the Department of Education. The church shut down Ricks College athletics rather than operate a second athletics program close to the one it already had.
Do we really want to talk about those decisions in the same sentence as the idea of shutting down a $50-million-a-year program like what the church has at BYU?
As long as my tithing money isn’t paying for it, I think the church can do whatever it pleases with the football team. I’d just like to see the nation’s taxpayers care as much about all those other schools’ moral and financial obligations.
I’m not able to be a fly on the wall when the topic comes up at church headquarters, but I would hope the conversation sound like this:
Tom Holmoe: “So, we’re going to be changing our scholarships to keep up with the national model. There’s been some changes to the NCAA rules and we’re going to do what they allow us to do.”
Board of Trustees: “Are you guys still paying for all that on your own?”
Tom Holmoe: “Yeah, it’s all in the budget.”
Board of Trustees: “OK, good luck this year. We’ll see you on ESPN.”
Finally, years ago, when a fan at Education Week questioned something about the BYU football program, athletics director Tom Holmoe replied that the school didn’t build the indoor practice facility to turn into a barn for hay storage. We will have to see exactly how the new rules shake out for BYU. I don’t know what divisions or rules will be coming, but I don’t really see the school turning the IPF into a barn any time soon, either.
Gregory Welch is a regular contributor to LoyalCougars.com.
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