BYU has made itself at home the past three years at McCarthey Athletic Center, beating national power Gonzaga on its home court each year over that span.
Now, the Cougars may be getting an even warmer welcome.
The Gonzaga Bulletin reported that school administrators are urging students to reconsider dressing as Mormon missionaries — only a handful have done so in the past at the 6,000 capacity arena — when BYU plays the Zags at The Kennel this Saturday (8 p.m. MST, ESPN2).
“[Those costumes don’t] really represent who we are as a university and it shines bad on us and doesn’t show a welcoming community that supports everybody,” Colleen Vanderboom, assistant dean of Student Involvement and Leadership, told the Bulletin. “So every year it has come up and we have been talking a lot with Kennel Club and they agree — it’s not cool.”
BYU joined the West Coast Conference, a collection of private religious institutions, in 2011. The Cougars' three-game win streak at The Kennel — the Zags have been ranked each of those times — includes a 79-71 victory over then-No. 1 Gonzaga on Feb. 25, 2017. It was BYU's first victory over the nation's No. 1 team.
Vanderboom said that Gonzaga having Davis High's Jesse Wade, the 2015 Deseret News Mr. Basketball honoree, on the Zags roster this year helped spark further discussions about not mocking other religions at the Jesuit institution.
Wade is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is a freshman for the Zags after serving a two-year LDS mission to Lyon, France.
“When we learned that [Wade] had been recruited to come here, we had to be legit,” Vanderboom told the Bulletin. “Like OK, we have been talking about it enough and now, not only is it embarrassing, but it’s like, really? He’s one of our community members.”
Wade's father, Eric Wade, shared his appreciation for the administration's efforts via social media after the Bulletin story came out. Read the full story at The Gonzaga Bulletin.