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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended June 25, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 23Jun00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Winners and Losers In Ricks/BYU-Idaho Changes
Casper WY Tribune (AP) 22Jun00 D3
BYU will also see a decrease in the number of students transferring

REXBURG, IDAHO -- The changes at Ricks College, soon to be four-year school BYU-Idaho, caught both the local community and educators by surprise, and left even academics and administrators at the school uncertain about exactly what the changes will mean. But the little that is known already heralds big changes in the school, the community and in education elsewhere.

Most of the campus has questions about exactly what the changes will mean. Will the students attending BYU-Idaho in their third and fourth years increase the number of students attending Ricks? Will the new bachelor's degree programs mean additional faculty at the school, as well as accompanying staff and administrators?

In making the announcement of the changes, LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley did indicate one of the changes that will happen, however. He announced that the highly-ranked intercollegiate athletic teams would be phased out. "It's too much money," he explained.

That change alone shocked the college. Football coach Ron Haun was caught entirely by surprise, "It was like I got blindsided. We had no inkling. There was no professional courtesy that this was going to happen and we haven't had any comment since," Haun said. "I have no details. The kids don't know. Parents don't know. Kids on missions are calling."

Former Orem Utah high school student Luke Chatwin was also caught by surprise. He was ready to sign a letter of intent to play basketball at Ricks, and now doesn't know if the program will be there for the two years he had planned to attend. "I wonder why it happened," he mused in confusion. "Everything was going good - and it was going good for a lot of athletes."

Even Athletic Director Garth Hall was caught off guard by the announcement, and returned to his desk Wednesday afternoon to face 50 messages from students and players wondering what to expect. "This is the biggest misunderstanding that's gone out. There's a couple of press releases out right now that have indicated that we will be phased out after next year, and I think there is a lot of reaction that we won't be in the business next year. Both of those are probably incorrect," he said. "It's a phaseout. We have various obligations and commitments to the league, other institutions, to our student-athletes that we plan on honoring and fulfilling."

The announcement also didn't have specifics about what academic changes the college would have to make. While the announcement said that the school will add bachelor's degree programs, but which departments will have the degrees has not yet been determined. And the departments that do get the degrees may have to add faculty and staff to support the degrees.

Community leaders in Rexburg assume that the changes will mean an increase in faculty and staff for the town's largest employer. "I think it will have a tremendous impact on the city," said Rexburg Mayor Bruce Sutherland. Chamber of Commerce Executive Director says the additional faculty and staff will make the community grow, "Those people will need new homes, and new homes need new lawnmowers, rakes, shovels and hoes," said Benfield, who also owns the Rexburg True Value store.

The school's current president David Bednar, said that the school's enrollment will rise, and Mayor Sutherland speculates that the school could eventually have as many as 15,000 students at the end of five years.

In addition to the affect on Rexburg, the change will also affect other colleges and universities. Because students currently can't get a bachelor's degree from Ricks, many students move on to other colleges and universities, including those in Idaho and Utah State and BYU. Presumably fewer students would transfer to these schools after two years at the new BYU-Idaho.

Currently, about 140 Ricks students go to Boise State University every fall and 37 transfer to the University of Idaho. Another 272 transferred to Idaho State University last year. However, Idaho State vice president Kent Tingey expects that while the number of undergraduates will decline significantly, his school will see an upswing in the number of incoming graduate students.

BYU will also see a decrease in the number of students transferring from Ricks, as Board of Trustees for the schools expects. Again, the sports programs may be the hardest hit, because the players BYU was getting from Ricks will no longer be in Rexburg. "Over the years, we recruited a lot of good players from Ricks," said Ken Schmidt, BYU's defensive coordinator and former head football coach at Ricks. "It's been a good place for late-bloomers. We'll still be able to find the best LDS athletes, we'll just have to do more hunting for them."

BYU graduate assistant Aaron Roderick, a former receiver at Ricks and BYU, agrees, "It's not going to kill our program, but it doesn't help us. We had only four or five guys on the team from Ricks this past year, but that's more than any other (junior college)." Roderick worries that the without Ricks' athletic program, LDS athletes will have fewer opportunities. "A lot of schools don't want guys who go on missions," Roderick said. "There are so many players coming out of Ricks who didn't get much publicity in high school. Ricks is the ticket to get noticed."

BYU has benefited from a number of former Ricks players on all of its sports teams. Among football players that played at Ricks and later at BYU are NFL defensive lineman Jason Buck, Ben Cahoon, who currently plays in the Canadian Football League, and Matt Johnson, who was drafted by the NFL's Indianapolis Colts.

In addition, the change could affect a source of coaches for BYU, "It will affect our coaching pool,"said BYU's Mens Athletic Director Val Hale. "In many ways, Ricks was a mini-BYU. I'm sure those people will still be available. We just have to look other places to find them."

BYU will miss Ricks recruiting pipeline Deseret News 22Jun00 S3,1249,175014129,00.html By Jeff Call: Deseret News sports writer Idaho school churned out many good players

The Ricks-BYU pipeline Deseret News 22Jun00 S3,1249,175014127,00.html


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