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I keep reading about the conference expansion topic/debate and have a few random thoughts as it relates to BYU.
• What exactly does it mean when people call a school a “research institution”? Why isn’t BYU considered to be such an institution? While I was at BYU my professors dedicated a lot of time to research. They submitted their results to scholastic journals, and their results were frequently published. Go to the BYU home page and you often find the front page promoting a research project done by a faculty member. As an alumnus, I get the regular publications in the mail that are full of stories about the research done at the school. I also know that President Merrill J. Bateman initiated a one-of-a-kind program that integrated the undergraduate student body into the research efforts. While many claim that BYU has less graduate students and programs as other institutions, I have yet to see anyone quantify and compare the research done at BYU and other institutions.
• Am I the only one who fails to see the connection between graduate research and undergraduate athletics? So because BYU does not conduct as much graduate research as the Pac-10 schools, its undergraduate athletes can’t be affiliated with the Pac-10 athletes. As I have explained before, we should not let one get in the way of the other. Why does the conference structure even exist? Was it started by athletics or academics? Does it really make sense to exclude the best teams that can increase the value of the product on the playing field because the school’s overall level of academics isn’t as high, and vice versa? Why can’t we take a single aspect of a university and create conferences that way, so one school would be a member of several different conferences. Let’s have a conference system based on the merits of a university’s research, a university’s athletics programs, a university’s performing arts, a university’s visual arts, and the membership of each conference system will be completely independent of each other. Therefore, schools that are A schools in sports and B schools in music can be in an A conference for sports and a B conference for music. We already see forms of this. Look at the Big East for football and basketball. Boise State competes in the Pac-10 for wrestling.
• If we believe what nobody wants to admit (money is the driving force and will be the X factor), then BYU should be a better value to the Pac-10 than Utah. Media markets = money. Utah will bring the Salt Lake City market to the Pac-10, but BYU will bring the Salt Lake City market and the Provo market. Take it from one who lived in both markets, Utah gets no coverage in Provo, but Salt Lake City covers BYU just as much as it does Utah. Throw in the nationwide aspect of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Pac-10 would stand to make much more by inviting BYU.
• Can the liberal Pac-10 schools be as concerned about BYU’s conservativeness and association with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as we all think they are? Wouldn’t adding a school with view points on the other end of the spectrum help avoid close-mindedness and allow you to form an opinion only after understanding all sides of the issue? Students would graduate from the university better equipped for life in a more balanced world. Anyways, I thought the liberal position was to be inclusive—to include everyone no matter your lifestyle or your beliefs. From my experience, however, BYU is a very open-minded institution. The religious aspect keeps the mind of professors and students open to more than what we can see, what has always been, and what can be achieved even if public opinion says otherwise.