Dubois upset over delay in BYU-UW kickoff time

Updated: October 1, 2003, 8:52 PM ET

LARAMIE, Wyo. -- Citing concerns over possibly lower attendance, University of Wyoming President Philip L. Dubois has protested a decision to move back the kickoff time of the Brigham Young-Wyoming game by three hours.

The Mountain West Conference requested the game to be played at 4 p.m. instead of 1 p.m. Oct. 18.

Dubois said he told MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson that rescheduling the start of the game would disrupt homecoming and hurt Wyoming's efforts to comply with 2004 NCAA attendance requirements.

A delay also would result in significant revenue losses from ticket sales, concessions, merchandising, and parking revenues, Dubois said.

"Here we have a new coach generating excitement for our football program and we're doing our very best to regenerate fan interest in a Cowboy program that's suffered during the past three years," Dubois said. "First we get hit with three home games in November and now this."

BYU and SportsWest, which holds the contract for airing BYU and UW games not selected for the league television package, asked UW to change the 1 p.m. time to either 10 a.m. or 4 p.m. so the game could be broadcast in the Provo area outside the 1-4 p.m. window reserved for ESPN football telecasts.

Dubois declined and offered to make the broadcast available to BYU on a tape-delayed basis, an offer that BYU refused.

Dubois asked Thompson in his letter of Sept. 10 to grant an exception to the conference policy requiring institutions reschedule home games to accommodate local television broadcasts that would not conflict with national and regional ESPN telecasts.

The policy was adopted to accommodate revenue losses for schools that had lucrative local television packages.

However, Dubois said, the conference policy and rules provide for exceptions when the home institution can demonstrate "serious negative financial considerations" or that rescheduling will have a "serious negative impact on the institution."

Although sympathetic to Wyoming's concerns, Dubois said that Thompson told him no request for a game to be rescheduled has ever been refused, and that setting such a precedent with the BYU-Wyoming game would be unwise.

The conference Executive Committee, comprising presidents from other MWC institutions, agreed with Thompson but indicated that Dubois' concerns deserve a full airing at next June's meeting of the board of directors and as the conference approaches renegotiation of its television package with ESPN.

"We adopted this policy in good faith at the time the conference was founded," Dubois said. "What has evolved over time, however, is that any request for rescheduling a home game must be honored, regardless of the circumstances."

To accommodate Wyoming fans who are unable to travel to Laramie for the later-starting game, UW has arranged for a tape-delayed broadcast on KTWO-TV beginning at 6 p.m.

Dubois estimates that Wyoming typically loses more than 4,000 paying customers when games are scheduled at a nonstandard time such as 10 a.m. or 4 p.m.

Dubois noted that a new NCAA Division I-A requirement that will go into effect next season requiring a minimum average home attendance of 15,000 may even make tape-delayed broadcasts less likely in the future.

"Our fans just flat out need to show up," he said.

UW's status as a Division I-A institution could be endangered as could future bowl invitations if the school fails to meet the NCAA standard.

Thompson and MWC Associate Commissioner Bret Gilliland were out of the office Wednesday and unavailable for comment.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index

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