Summarized by Kent Larsen
Y. Women's Teams May Be Left Out of Championships
Salt Lake Tribune 15Aug99 L3
By Patrick Kinahan: Salt Lake Tribune
BYU's on-going dispute with the NCAA over Sunday play may come to a
head in a month, when the LDS Church's University will learn if its
women's soccer and basketball teams will be eligible for postseason
tournaments. Under an NCAA ruling last week, both teams will be
ineligible to participate in postseason tournaments even if they
qualify because of the University's refusal to play on Sunday.
Last week the NCAA committees that oversee women's soccer and
basketball ruled that BYU couldn't participate because of the
scheduling difficulties that refusing to play on Sunday would cause.
The NCAA board of directors permitted this action when it eliminated
the 35-year-old so-called "BYU Rule," which kept championship games
from being played on Sunday. The board then create a new rule last
August to accommodate those schools, currently only BYU and Campbell
University, that refuse to play on Sunday. But the new rule left a
loophole, allowing individual sports to leave out teams that refuse
to play on Sunday if changing the schedule will disrupt the "orderly
conduct of a championship."
While BYU knew that there was a loophole, it had hoped that the
loophole wouldn't be used. "We knew there was a loophole," said Val
Hale, BYU athletic director. "It could have some pretty serious
repercussions if it turns out we can't participate in the NCAA
tournaments." BYU's women's soccer team is currently ranked 14, and
qualified for the tournament last year, reaching the "sweet 16."
If BYU can't legislate its way out of the problem, it may decide to
seek resolution through the courts. "If we're still left out of
tournaments, the courts remain an option. There might be a pretty
fair case for religious discrimination," says Hale. The NCAA
recently released a non-discrimination statement that included
Meanwhile, BYU is ready to play, "If it comes down to Sunday and us,
we'll forfeit," Hale said, "but don't keep us out of the tournament
if we qualify."