One of college basketball's most underrated in-state rivalries became a little more hostile Wednesday night after a student employee put up a boastful message on the postgame scoreboard.
As fans filed out of the Marriott Center following BYU's hard-fought 78-72* victory over visiting Utah State, a message flashed on the scoreboard that read "Dear UT St., Enjoy The LOSS ♥ Your Big Brother BYU." BYU issued the following statement on Thursday apologizing for the scoreboard message and insisting that the student acted without the knowledge of anyone from the Cougars athletic department.
As a university, we apologize for the inappropriate message that was briefly posted on the BYU scoreboard at the end of the Utah State-BYU men's basketball game. BYU's athletic director Tom Holmoe also has apologized to Utah State's athletic director, Scott Barnes. As Tom explained to him, the university is extremely sorry for this message, which does not reflect the sentiment of BYU Athletics or the university.
Athletics does not operate the scoreboard in the Marriott Center; instead, this is handled by the university's IT department. In this incident, the usual person was not at work because of a family emergency. The student employee filling in took the liberty of putting up what he thought was a humorous message. This matter has been addressed with the student, who regrets his action.
Part of the reason the unnamed BYU student may have taken so much pleasure in defeating Utah State is because the Aggies have enjoyed the upper hand in the rivalry recently. Utah State defeated the Cougars in their lone hoops meeting last season and ended a 10-game losing streak to BYU in football on Sept. 29 with a 31-16 upset.
The scoreboard message is the second controversy to emerge from this latest Utah State-BYU matchup alone. Aggies fans were already irate at a dubious intentional foul called in the final two minutes on Tai Wesley that fouled Utah State's star big man out of the game and swung momentum in favor of the Cougars.
While anger over that foul call is understandable, any outrage at the scoreboard message is overreaction at its worst. This wasn't anything malicious. It was exactly the sort of lighthearted prank that makes college rivalries fun.
* The scoreboard in the above photo reads 78-74, but a disallowed Utah State bucket after the buzzer actually made the final score 78-72