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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended January 26, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 25Jan01

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


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