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Utah Universities' Sports Flap Spurs Legislature's Interest

February 22, 2016
 
 

The Utah Legislature did not initiate a highly unusual audit of the University of Utah's athletics programs to try to get the university to reverse its decision last month to drop in-state rival Brigham Young University from the schedule of its men's basketball team, the lawmakers responsible for the audit told The Salt Lake Tribune. But Utah's highly unpopular decision to interrupt a longstanding rivalry -- the team's coach said he had acted to try to "cool down" emotions in response to a fight between the two teams in December -- clearly drew the legislators' interest in a way that a dispute between the universities' biology departments or debate teams almost certainly would not have.

Lawmakers said they would use the audit to examine whether the role of athletics is threatening to eclipse or tarnish the universities' reputations. "The exclamation point needs to be, 'If you ever, athletic department, feel like you have taken over [the rest of the school],'" Representative Dan McCay told Utah officials at a Feb. 4 higher education budget meeting, "'we'll get rid of you.'"

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