Lawmakers talk possibility of legislation to put BYU vs Utah basketball game back on the schedule

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SALT LAKE CITY - The day after the University of Utah announced its plans to cancel its 107-year-old basketball rivalry with BYU, fans and local politicians weighed in.

"To see that only World War II had interrupted this prior to this, those are big decisions," said Utah Speaker of the House Greg Hughes, a Republican representing District 51. "I worry how it will impact the public."

Even Utah Governor Gary Herbert weighed in at one point Thursday morning, tweeting out: "We must hold ourselves to the highest standards of sportsmanship and excellence. I expect that from both teams. Play the game."

Speaker Hughes said constituents had reached out to him to see if there was possible legislative action that could be taken to ensure the basketball rivalry would continue.

“Tax payers pay for the University of Utah, and so there’s a natural reaching out to me,” Hughes points out.

He wouldn't specify what kind of action could be taken, but he did confirm previous measures were considered for the football rivalry.

"There had been some bill files that would look to influence this by statute that say, 'look, you got to play,'" Hughes adds.

However, not everyone on Utah's Capitol Hill agrees with the Speaker's assessment.

"I can't believe the legislature wants to monkey into basketball scheduling," said Senator Jim Dabakis, D-District 2. "How pathetic is this now that the legislature is now going to decide the basketball schedule to protect BYU."

Senator Dabakis, a BYU graduate but a self-proclaimed University of Utah fan, doesn't believe sports and politics belong in the same sentence, at least not when it comes to this rivalry.

He said: "I say legislature hands off basketball, hands off the football, basketball. Leave it up to the professionals.”


  • bob

    You’ve got to be kidding me. This is what our elected officials are spending their time (and our money) on?

    Everyone who cast a vote on this matter, either yea OR nay, should be kicked out of office. What a trivial waste of time.

    • dasguapos

      Technically, Utah is the one wasting taxpayer money by buying out a previously contracted game. I’d prefer the legislature stay out of this, but there is actual reason for the involvement. And, there’s a precedence of other states doing this. It is a public matter.

  • dasguapos

    Rather than force Utah to play in-state schools, the legislature should just cut funding to Utah athletics. They aren’t playing other in-state schools, so Utah is not getting the return on investment it should be. It’s also obvious Utah is a terrible steward of funds. They get PAC money and force students to pay high athletics fees as well. They really shouldn’t be operating in the red.

    • Key188

      You’re comment and line of logic is so moronic I don’t even know where to begin. Yep, let’s just cut all funding to all schools who play primarily out of state teams. Forget about the income those games generate. Everyonr will just play 5 or 6 football games a year with all in state teams whether or not they’re all playing at the same level. It will be so enjoyable and make SO much sense.

  • Bob

    Its simple: The AD and Coach directly cost $80k to the state school and taxpayers. Take it out of their pay. (Indirectly I’m sure the impact is much greater so maybe you should require more). Probably doesn’t affect them too much and so let them put their money where there mouth is.
    Until next group comes in, which probably won’t be too long. AD probably just put the nail in his coffin with another bad decision and Coach is probably now on thin ice. You can only burn so many bridges before you are left on an island playing survivor. No hard feelings, just cause and effect.

    • Thunder

      Ha! Utah’s AD isn’t going anywhere and coach K is not on thin ice. Your analogy to survivor is mute. The Pac 12 “island” is a lot bigger than the WCC/independence. The Utes beat Duke recently, when is the last time BYU beat someone of that caliber? Silly zoobs.

  • JR Rayson

    As a Utah resident I think this 80K need to be paid back to State, if they have the money for this kind of silliness then they don’t need the money we give them every year!! I know, the “Athletic Program has its own funds” Bull, I don’t want any more of my tax money going to the UofU Period. Until they grow up. As a U Alum, I Love Coach K, this is how he teaches his kids to play, an NBA style of aggressive that’s good, But! you don’t allow your players to scratch opposing player faces, You do not yell at opposing players, you dont teach your players to flop, you don’t need to be restrained by your players? you are the coach, you control your emotions, and don’t Lie!!! I want my money back.

  • Mr. Charles

    Time to drop athletics from universities and focus on academics and job skills.
    But then again, what would all you people have to argue about haha.

    • Dominique

      One of the most intelligent responses here.

      On the other hand, though.. while writing for the Weber State University Signpost many, many moons ago; I was researching why we shouldn’t do away with all athletics. I was surprised when I interviewed the department head of the department responsible for getting donations… for the entire university.

      I was told that more than 1/2 the donations they received at the time, were because a donor was motivated to do so because of attendance at sports events. When I pushed for more detail, wondering why all that money was going to athletics for a mostly losing programs, he informed me that only a handful of those donations actually went to athletics. MOST of the donations were earmarked for other departments/colleges, like Humanities, Sciences, Library, etc.

      So .. this is a conundrum for sure.

  • Steve

    Hill and K are employees of the state and the state should fire them for their bone-headed move. Then hire some real men to take those jobs who actually have a pair.

  • Chris

    Give me a break. I’m a major BYU fan and this is a ridiculous idea. When is Holmoe and the university going to see that it’s just time for us to move on. Utah has been a horrible partner the last several years and as long as Hill is the AD. Currently they are dictating the terms of our relationship. Time to tell them to take a hike.

    • Dominique

      That’s what happens when one team goes to a major conference, and none of those conferences want the other team.

  • Dominique

    Shut up already. And expand Medicaid. People are dying, fuhcryingoutloud. (not to mention the $104,000,000.00 you’ve already left on the table) And you’re worried about a damned basketball game? Grow up already.

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