In the space of about 18 hours between Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning, BYU saw its bubble burst not once, but twice, in its battle against Sunday play.
BYU learned Monday it had fallen one request short of a mandatory 100 that would have suspended the recent legislation allowing the staging of championship events on Sunday. The NCAA headquarters in Kansas received 99 petitions by the 5 p.m. Central Time deadline.Later that hour, the NCAA received a petition from Boise State University, pushing the total to the century mark. BYU and Campbell University, the two schools most affected by the elimination of the "BYU Rule," were told Boise State's request had arrived too late and therefore efforts to suspend the ruling were unsuccessful.
There was, however, a dispute at the NCAA regarding when Boise State's request was received and the organization is not saying how soon after the deadline the form arrived at its offices.
One NCAA official told the Chronicle of Higher Education that 100 requests for the override had been recorded. Other requests were also received after the deadline and the NCAA directors met together to decide whether or not to accept Boise State's request form. Once again, hope floated at BYU for a brief time. Ultimately, however, the powers-that-be at the NCAA, infamous for following the letter of law, chose to recognize only 99 requests.
Boise State sports information director Max Corbet told the Deseret News that the school did not have a request form in hand until 5 p.m. CDT. Corbet said officials at the Big West school believed the deadline was 5 p.m. Mountain Time, not Central Time. "Once we received the form, we promptly sent it to the NCAA," he said.
A similar confusion may have occurred at other schools as well. The fact that the deadline came on the heels of a long Fourth of July weekend may have hindered the last-ditch effort to accumulate 100 petitions prior to the deadline.
All day Monday, NCAA officials handling the requests meticulously counted and recounted the forms and discovered some were signed by the wrong people and were returned for the proper signatures. Those petitions reportedly were returned to the NCAA. BYU president Merrill Bateman said he made three phone calls Monday afternoon in an attempt to coax some schools that hadn't responded to send in their requests. He said representatives from each school he contacted wanted to lend their support to BYU's cause but had misplaced the appropriate paperwork. BYU sent new forms to those schools.
While the unfolding drama made for some tense moments, BYU officials are elated, and grateful, for the votes of support that were tendered. "It hasn't lessened the excitement of what's happened," said BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins.
The list of schools that favor an override vote by the entire 300-plus NCAA Division I membership on the Sunday-play issue, scheduled for January, is impressive. It includes at least one school from every major conference and institutions from coast to coast.
The schools that have voiced their opposition to the elimination of the "BYU Rule" have been heard, and BYU officials are hoping that sound resonates in the ears of the 15 university presidents who sit on the NCAA Board of Directors. That body meets Aug. 11 in Chicago and could reinstate the "BYU Rule."
Otherwise, BYU will need a five-eighths majority vote at the NCAA convention to overturn the Sunday-play legislation.