PROVO — For months, speculation has swirled about the outcome of an internal review conducted by BYU officials regarding allegations of improper benefits to student-athletes.
The information gathered from that investigation was forwarded to the NCAA.
The school should find out within the next week what action the NCAA will take, BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said during a 55-minute question-and-answer session with reporters Wednesday.
Holmoe expects it will come prior to the football team’s season opener at Connecticut on Aug. 29.
The NCAA is “going to review our case in the next couple of days or something,” Holmoe said. “We’ll hear back hopefully soon.”
While Holmoe said he didn't want to speculate about how the NCAA will handle the case, he added, "We followed the protocol and procedures. We feel good about what we have done. I think I can say this — I don’t see this as a major case. It’s a violation of a rule. We’re awaiting the response.”
Holmoe declined to talk about any names of those who are linked to the case.
“It will eventually come out with what they say. They may come back and not say much,” Holmoe said. “I can say there may have to be a repayment on something and that’s all it comes down to and there wouldn’t be a penalty. Or there could be a penalty based on that.”
Holmoe said nobody on campus was fired because of this internal investigation.
Last winter, longtime director of football operations, Duane Busby, resigned. There has been speculation that Busby’s departure from BYU was related to the alleged violations.
“He resigned on his own,” Holmoe said. “We had conversations a year or two previous to that about him moving on to other things. At that time, he had actually talked to me about moving on to another job. The timing was unfortunate.”
Did the school suggest penalties on itself?
“Not necessarily in this particular case because it didn’t go down that road,” Holmoe said.
Holmoe answered numerous questions on a wide variety of subjects Wednesday:
POWER 5 AUTONOMY
With the NCAA’s decision to give autonomy to the Power 5 conference schools that want to offer additional financial and material benefits to their student-athletes, Holmoe emphasized that BYU will do what’s best for BYU.
“We’re focusing on what we’ve done for a long time,” Holmoe said. “Instead of chasing after necessarily what the Power 5 are doing, or individual schools, we think it’s best to stay on track with what’s brought BYU to this point. We’ll make some changes and we’ll adapt, but we’ve got to stay true to who we are and what we do. We are BYU, and we’re going to do what we do best — compete as hard as we can and we’ll raise whatever money we need to. We’re not going to keep up with the Joneses in every single area.”
BYU opened a nutrition center last year that has provided fruits, nuts, bagels and protein shakes for student-athletes. New NCAA policies have altered BYU's approach.
“Now, you can have anything there, food-wise, so that changes the direction we are taking that,” Holmoe said. “Now, we have another plan, and another budget."
While the football series between BYU and Utah has gone on hiatus the next two years, the two schools are scheduled to resume play from 2016-18. And beyond that?
“It’s about time where we start looking at the future because they are scheduling games now into the future and we’ve got to make sure those games are scheduled,” Holmoe said. “If (Utah has) one game left, where is it at? That’s a hard thing. It’s not as easy as you think to put together a BYU-Utah game these days. But we’re going to do everything we possibly can to make it happen.”
Notre Dame agreed to a six-game series with BYU in 2010, with two games set to be played in Provo. Only two games have been played, both in South Bend, Indiana, and no future games are scheduled.
“The Notre Dame series is in question right now” Holmoe said because the Fighting Irish have since entered into a scheduling agreement with the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“We want that series. They’d like it to happen,” Holmoe said, explaining that he’s had conversations about it with Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick. “But it’s not easy to make those games work because Notre Dame, they can play just about anywhere.”
Holmoe added that Notre Dame might buy out the contract. “I’d rather wait with them to get the game,” he said.
Last spring, both the ACC and Southeastern Conference created a scheduling policy that, in part, doesn't view BYU on the same level as a Power 5 school.
“There hasn’t been any fallout (from that policy),” Holmoe said. “When that happened, it was their business. I’ve actually spoken with both of the commissioners about their policy and we had conversations. I’m going to continue to schedule the best I can. We’ll go after and try to schedule from all conferences.”
BYU is entering its fourth year of an eight-year broadcast agreement with ESPN.
Holmoe said BYU has "a very strong relationship” with ESPN. He added that it might appear BYU has to make sacrifices for some game times, but that ESPN does a lot for BYU behind the scenes with scheduling, and bowl agreements.
“They want to put us in the best possible light that they can,” Holmoe said. “In some situations, we have better games than others. That’s one of those give-and-take things where we can’t always have the best situation for us. Sometimes we take care of what’s best for them. I’m willing to do that and it’s worked out really well.”
LDS CHURCH’S VIEW OF BYU SPORTS
Ten years ago, Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho) dropped intercollegiate athletics and BYU-Hawaii recently announced that it is phasing out athletics.
Could such a thing happen at BYU-Provo?
Holmoe said the school's board of trustees “are so supportive of athletics. I think you look at BYU-Idaho and BYU-Hawaii and BYU, you’re looking at three different entities. Even though they’re under the same umbrella of Church Education, you can’t compare those together. They’re totally different.”
What was his reaction when a local columnist speculated that BYU-Provo could phase out sports at some point?
Holmoe said he snickered.
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