Admissions: A New Hurdle for BYU Athletics?

(Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

“You shall not pass!” 

If the rumors are to be believed, athletically gifted, honor code willing student athletes are being turned away, or placed on very strict academic programs, because high school GPAs and/or test scores indicate that the student athlete will struggle academically at BYU.

Like Gandalf the Grey throwing down with the Galrog, the admissions office is preemptively proclaiming which prospective students can pass in Provo, to the detriment of BYU’s flagship athletic teams.

The Road to the Hill is Paved with Good Intentions

There is no doubt that if these rumored restrictions are in place, they are not intended to harm recruits.  They are intended to keep certain athletes from a situation that could lead to failure or academic struggles.  But is that the really the right way to approach the issue?

Consider former BYU defensive back Derwin Gray.  A few months ago, Gray tweeted “I’m thankful that in 1988, LaVell Edwards…took a chance on a kid from an under privileged environment, who scored a 16 on his ACT. Today, I have a Doctorate and have written several books.”

Not only does he have a doctorate, but he inspires thousands each week with his online sermons and BYU promotional videos. Gray’s anecdote may have resulted from a moment of gratitude, but it seems more likely that his comment was in direct response to the recently unhappy marriage of admissions office standards and BYU athletics.

No doubt, BYU is academically rigorous, but it feels like BYU is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. A formulaic approach fails to take into account difficult home life that did not foster academic performance, post-mission maturity, and a person’s ability to transform from a kid with a 16 ACT to a pastor influencing thousands weekly (after an NFL career).

BYU is a place where we leave the ninety and nine, isn’t it?  If it’s not, then it should be.