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Paul Rolly: Utah lawmaker tells universities to play each other or else

Published February 5, 2013 3:38 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Rep. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, is proposing legislation that would require universities in Utah to play at least two games a year with in-state rivals in each sport in which they all compete, or lose their ticket-sales tax exemption.

McCay has not yet unveiled a bill and confided Tuesday that it is a work in progress, but the school that would have the toughest time complying would be the state's largest: the University of Utah.

The Utes are obligated to play nine Pac-12 football games, leaving only three nonconference games. And the league requires the nonconference games to be played within the first four weeks of the season.

U. Athletic Director Chris Hill says he likes the concept and the university wants to play in-state rivals as much as possible. But with restrictions imposed by the Pac-12, it might be hard to find the same available dates with other Utah schools.

Brigham Young University, although a private school, also is affected because it, too, gets the tax exemption on ticket sales.

The schools have justified the exemption because it sends money to Title IX programs for women's sports.

BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins says the legislation would not affect the Cougars that much because the school is independent in football and already plays three in-state schools.

McCay, a Utah State graduate, talked with representatives of the U. of U., BYU, Utah State and Weber State last week to discuss his proposal and hear concerns.

"In talking to the representatives, all the schools say they like the concept of playing each other and they want to do it, but a little bit of leverage [the sales tax exemption] helps get things done," McCay said.

Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, floated a similar requirement a couple of years ago, although his proposal was limited to basketball. He says there is an economic development component to the idea, since whoever hosts the games keeps the gate, so the ticket money is kept in-state rather than to a college or university in another state.

For that special someone • The Utah Gun Exchange, a website for selling and trading guns and ammunition that was begun a few months ago by a group of Utah County folks after ksl.com stopped including guns in its classified ads, has a deal just in time for Valentine's Day.

The exchange noted that if you go to its Facebook page and "like" it, you are eligible to win one of two sets of chocolate guns, complete with little chocolate bullets.

Just the way to top off a romantic evening. It's enough to make Wayne LaPierre swoon.

It also brings back memories of those candy cigarettes I used to buy as a kid.

Wanting recognition • I wrote in Monday's column about a legislative committee shooting down a bill by Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Holladay, that would have eliminated straight-party voting on election ballots and noted those speaking in favor of the bill included Utahns for Ethical Government, the Alliance for a Better Utah, Represent Me Utah, a student body officer from the University of Utah and a Salt Lake County elections officer.

I then quoted Rep. Mike ("Cowboy") Noel, R-Kanab, who said he was voting against the bill because those in favor of it "are unethical."

I then got an email from Ali Sadler, the University of Utah student officer, who wanted to be identified by name as one of those folks Noel thinks is unethical.

It must be a badge of honor for anyone living outside Kane County.

Cause and effect? • A reader couldn't help but notice the irony of two stories on ksl.com's website Tuesday. One article talked about the evils of bullying and the importance of stopping it. The other article told how youth leaders in Utah are urging the Boy Scouts of America not to go through with plans to stop discriminating against gays.

prolly@sltrib.com