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University: Changes not related to investigation

9/9/2004

PROVO, Utah -- Brigham Young University revamped its
athletic department Wednesday, but said the move was made after a
months-long internal review rather than as a reaction to the recent
sexual abuse allegations that have rocked the steadfast Mormon
school.

BYU Advancement Vice President K. Fred Skousen said during a
hastily called news conference that eliminating the positions of
the men's and women's athletic directors and merging the two
departments into one came after BYU received results from an
internal review commissioned in May to improve athletics.

The contracts for Val Hale, director of men's athletics, and
Elaine Michaelis, women's athletics director, were not renewed,
Skousen said. Both were immediately replaced Wednesday by a team of
department officials and Skousen, who said a formal search for a
new athletic director would not start for three to six months.

Associate athletic director Tom Holmoe, the former football
coach at Cal-Berkely, and senior associate AD Peter Pilling will
serve as co-chairmen of a transitional team that will oversee
athletics in the interim.

The interim team also includes associate AD Brian Santiago and
Janie Penfield, associate AD and senior women's administrator.

Hale has been athletic director since 1999 and was an associate
AD at his alma mater for 10 years before that.

Michaelis was in her 10th year of overseeing BYU's 11 women's
sports. She also coached volleyball, basketball, softball and field
hockey for the Cougars.

Hale did not immediately return a message left by The Associated
Press at his office Wednesday. Michaelis' office phone rang through
to a different office.

Skousen said the changes were not related to an ongoing
investigation by the Utah County Attorney's office into a
17-year-old girl's claim that she was gang raped by several people
she believed to be BYU football players.

According to police documents, the girl claimed she met several
football players at a mall Aug. 8 and went back to their apartment,
where they drank alcohol and watched a pornographic DVD.

The girl told police she felt sick and went into another room to
lie down, then woke up as one of the men allegedly was having sex
with her. She claimed at least three or four men also then had sex
with her.

"It is somewhat coincidental that we're in the press for other
things right now," Skousen said.

However, he did say the consolidation is an "important first
step in creating a distinctive, exceptional athletic program that
is fully aligned with the mission and values of Brigham Young
University and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
That is our objective."

Besides the official investigation, BYU has launched its own
investigation into the girl's allegations.

It's the second investigation this year involving BYU football
players and accusations of sexual assault.

A probe into an off-campus party Jan. 16 resulted in one
football player being kicked off the team. Three others were
suspended until at least spring 2005, while two players were placed
on probation.

Police said a woman claimed to have been raped by several
football players at the January party. The woman later told police
the sex was consensual, but she had said she was raped because she
was embarrassed and did not want to get in trouble for violating
the honor code.

Criminal charges were never filed but the school conducted an
investigation because of the honor code violations.

BYU's Honor Code prohibits the use of alcohol and pornography
and any premarital or extramarital sex. Students who violate the
Honor Code may be placed on probation, suspended or expelled.