By Kent Larsen
Wyoming Star Fights BYU, but also Eliminates Religious Slurs
LARAMIE, WYOMING -- Marcus Bailey has become a star basketball player at the
University of Wyoming, and fights hard against BYU every time they play,
gaining the admiration of BYU coach Steve Cleveland. But Bailey has also
managed to eliminate the religious slurs the Cowboy's fans used to yell at
BYU's players. The fans, it seems, don't want to offend their star player.
Bailey is an LDS Church member.
In a state that is more than 10% LDS, it is hardly surprising that an LDS
Church member would show up on one of Wyoming's teams, especially when you
consider that Bailey and his family are lifelong Cowboy fans. So it seems
likely that even if BYU had tried to recruit Bailey (Cleveland passed
because Bailey wasn't a high school standout), once the Cowboys had offered
a scholarship to Bailey, he was hooked. Cleveland is unperturbed at Bailey's
presence at Wyoming, "There are a lot of LDS kids around the country who
develop into good players. They're not all going to play at BYU."
What surprised coaches and fans about Bailey is that he has become the star
of the team, in spite of being a no-name sophomore guard playing alongside
two preseason all-conference big men, Josh Davis and Ugo Udezue. But Bailey
has performed well enough to earn star status, scoring 18.3 points per game
and jumping into the Mountain West Conference leading scorer position last
Saturday after having a 33 point game against former powerhouse Utah.
Still, while his non-Mormon fans at Wyoming have shut up about his religion,
some of his fellow church members, BYU fans, still get on his case about not
attending BYU. "I get ragged on in church about it sometimes," says Bailey.
Some of his fellow ward members "are pretty big BYU fans. They mention [his
choice of schools] every so often."
But to Bailey, the change among the fans is more important. "The fans here
know I'm LDS, and they respect that. They'll still get on [the Cougars], but
it's because it's BYU, not because they're Mormons." Hopefully, that respect
will continue, even if Bailey chooses to serve an LDS mission after this
season, as he is now considering.
Wyoming's LDS Star Converts Pokes' Fans, Surprising Bailey tops league's scoring list
Salt Lake Tribune 22Jan01 S2
By Phil Miller: Salt Lake Tribune