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For week ended August 15, 1999 Posted 29 Aug 1999

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Y. Women's Teams May Be Left Out of Championships

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 religious discrimination.

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."

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information