Smith can leave Weber St., but Wadsworth banned from BYU scholarship?

So, let’s get this straight.

John L. Smith can sign a contract to be the next football coach at Weber State, then, before he coaches even one game, leave and take a job at Arkansas, but…  Hawaii coach Norm Chow can block former Hawaii defensive back Mike Wadsworth and his parents from talking to BYU, a school he wants to transfer to when he returns from his mission in June?

What part of this doesn’t make sense?

Smith is a professional coach working in the NCAA. He can switch hats and jobs any time he wants.  Wadsworth is a student athlete who attended Hawaii, loved it, went on an LDS mission to Leeds, England and when Hawaii changed coaches and the program is now under control of a staff that doesn’t know him, hasn’t met him, the NCAA says Hawaii can block him from transferring and getting a scholarship at BYU near his home of Orem.


I talked to Wadsworth’s father today.  He is the one who is working on his son’s education while the missionary concentrates on finishing his church work in England.  The son returns in June.

“All I want to do is take care of my children and provide the best I can for them,” said John Wadsworth, co-founder of Morinda, who lives in Orem.  “My son had a very good experience at Hawaii but he wants to go to school closer to home after his mission.”  The staff at Hawaii has never met the player.

NCAA rules say and LDS missionary must receive a release from his scholarship at the first school attended in order to transfer and gain another scholarship at a school after missionary service.   This rule became more strict when Utah State’s Riley Nelson transferred to BYU after a mission to Spain.

The transfer paper work has been headed up by the Wadsworth family.  Coach Chow at Hawaii blocked Wadsworth’s appeal to make the transfer and receive financial aid.  As he understands it, this means Elder Wadsworth, nor his family, can contact or talk to BYU’s football staff, they’ve been blocked.

However, Wadsworth has applied for admission to BYU, been accepted, will pay his own way, and plans on attending BYU this fall.

So, what’s the big deal?

Chow cited the case of Riley Nelson as an example of BYU having an unfair advantage when it comes to LDS players who go on missions and he didn’t want to facilitate a transfer, thus the block.

In the meantime, John L. Smith is headed to Arkansas and the SEC after accepting a job at Weber State in the offseason.

Amazing, this NCAA stuff.



  1. stephen morley

    Chow just wants good kids to play for him. Unfortunately this type of press will only sour most LDS kids on Hawaii and lets face it their chance at National prominence is pretty steep. The guy has to do everything he can to stuff the holes in his ship. I wonder if BYU would block a player that wanted to go to Hawaii… As a recall Kansas got Heaps.

    • John Melvin Dodd

      I’m disappointed with Norm Chow. Having spent about 28 years himself at BYU he ought to be above such petty stuff. I was not an athlete, but I had never considered attending BYU until I went on my mission. By the time it was over BYU was the only school I considered, although I had two years of college before my mission. I had been hoping Chow would do well at Hawaii, but now I’m not so sure.

  2. JD2000

    Maybe it’s because Chow’s team, Hawaii, is scheduled to play BYU the next FOUR years, and Chow doesn’t want to release him to a team they’ll be playing, especially every year. I do think the rule should be revised, but as it stands, I do not fault Chow for his decision. He’s playing by the rules and I think most people would do the same thing in this case.

    • Mike

      Have to disagree with you JD. If the reason behind the decision was that they would be playing each other for the next “FOUR” years, then why would he be allowing him to transfer to schools in their same conference. You know, teams that they will be playing every year for the next “FOUR” years and beyond. And not to mention all those games against your conference matter more.

  3. Unbiased

    The issue is simple. BYU Didn’t offer this kid out of High School. Hawaii did and invested thousand of dollars and time in the athlete. It’s interesting that Riley Nelson, Taysom Hill, and now Wadsworth have all had “a change of heart” while serving the LDS Church to go to the LDS School? It would be one thing if Hawaii didn’t have a scholarship but they were planning on him coming back. BYU can’t use Missions as a farm system to pick recruits up while on amission

    • TC coug

      Going on a mission was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life. Before my mission I was a dumb teenager who had very different priorities. I attended BYU my freshman year and didn’t enjoy it very much. I had plans to either attend local UVU or the UofU after my mission. During those 2 years away I did a lot of growing up. I realized what really was important in this life, and I wanted to attend a school that had great academics, and supported a clean, Christian lifestyle. My desire to go back to BYU was solidified while on my mission, but no one made that decision for me. I guarantee these athletes were not contacted during their missions, but made the decision to transfer on their own. BYU has had kids transfer from BYU to other schools after their missions as well, so it’s not as one sided as many think.

  4. BDM

    Really UNBIASED? Seriously? You can’t be serious?

    How many times does BYU, Bronco Mendenhall, Tom Holmoe, and others have to formally state that they do NOT contact missionaries (players on other teams, scholarship athletes on other teams) while on their missions? What RECRUITING are you referring to?

    This argument about BYU recruiting players on missions has been cleared up SO MANY times. In this case Wadsworth’s father even tells the whole story about having never communicated with BYU athletic department (that includes coaches)–at all…never!

    Can we just put this argument to rest already. It’s like the argument about how BYU has an advantage because they support players going on 2 year missions and players come home more mature…SO OLD…SO DEAD ALREADY!

    If you are worried about how BYU has the corner on the market for LDS RM’s please consider how many players that BYU recruited prior to mission and that did not think twice about BYU after the mission (ala Xavier Sua’filo, Sione Fua, etc). Statistically that is rediculous! If you still don’t feel better consider Jake Murphy (now at UofU) who signed with BYU prior to mission.

    Seriously…can we just shelf this argument already?!?!

  5. Bart Mortensen

    Even more to the point, Chow can leave Utah before his contract is up—after only one yeaar, but one of “his” can’t?

  6. Question

    If the family has not talked to BYU how do they even know BYU is interested in giving the player a scholarship?

    • cougar76

      Where does it say BYU has a scholarship for him? They don’t. Just the opposite, he will be paying his own way, because Hawaii did not release him. Since BYU can’t talk to him about football, it appears that he is willing to come to BYU as a student and not a football player.

  7. Unbiased

    I went on an LDS mission and am still very active in the LDS Faith and know exactly what happens on missions. I never said that the BYU football staff talks to recruits but their is obviously communciation going on at some level between the family of the missionary and the school. How else would these kids have scholarships offered to them By BYU before they even come home? Jake Murphy did not have a scholarship available to him at BYU as he had come home earlier than planned, and had not attended BYU if I’m not mistaken at all in any capacity before he left on his mission. Ala Taysom Hill, which I think he did nothing wrong in transferring to BYU. Stanford had invested no real money or time in him up to that point beyond recruitment. Wadsworth and Riley Nelson had school paid for, played on their respective teams and contributed. Chow is also recruiting the same Pipeline that BYU is in the islands and He needs to show recruits that Hawaii is not a stepping stone that you can leave and go somewhere else when they finally offer. He should have to sit out a year and play by the rules like any other recruit. What he does after that one year is his business. I understand I seem biased I’m just stating the facts. If this kid had any school paid for by Hawaii and played any football with them, Hawaii or any institution should have the right to expect him to honor his commitment or face the rules. He knew these rules before he left and no cries foul?

    • BeWhyUte

      Sorry Unbiased but you’re dead wrong. You assume much with nothing to back it up but your “gut”.

      Mr. Wadsworth has stated that neither he nor his son have had any contact with BYU. You either believe the man or call him a liar. That’s up to you.

      You also assume Wadsworth has been offered a scholarship by BYU…where do you get that from?

    • theholdup

      Unbias, you just did a great job of explaining the authors point in the story. Utah had money and time invested in Chow and he was still able to walk, why is it any different for him than it is for this player. What’s the saying “whats good for the goose is good for the gander” Norm should let this player do as he wishes just as he himself was able to do even though in your words “the school he left had an investment in him”

    • Tony

      Your comment is just as biased as anyone else who is not a BYU fan! You’re assuming things because you don’t know and have no idea how these missionaries get their scholarships before returning home. All the missionaries that had scholarships with other schools who transferred to BYU made the switch on their own. The process is always initiated by the family,it’s after that then the school move forward and make the offer. BYU is the cleanest school when it comes to recruiting! Let me make a comment about Chow’s decision. Chow has all the right in the world to do what he has done and there’s nothing illegal about it. My concern is his motive of blocking the transfer. Why does Chow want to keep someone he doesn’t know, a player who doesn’t want to play for him? My guess it’s for personal reasons and not for the UH’s benefits. BYU had spent a lot of money and time on Jake Heaps. When Jake Heaps expressed his wish to transfer, BYU coaching staff understood and supported him. They wished him the best and let him go. One of the Te’o brothers asked for a transfer BYU gave it to him. He later expressed a desire to go back to BYU, they let him back in. And finally he asked to be released again and BYU obliged! Wadsworth has been gone for almost two years now and I’m sure as a returned missionary you’d understand how much you missed home and want to be close to home. Scholarship or not he’s already making the move on his own without either school’s (UH & BYU) blessings about playing football. Chow doesn’t understand because he lacks professionalism character. He seems to be still bitter toward BYU. Unbiased, would rather stay and play for a school like BYU when you have a change of heart to play for UU or UH? Wadsworth did what he had to do to follow his heart.

  8. Jer

    The point is, Hawaii got a new football coach, a new system, and a new staff. This young man is saying I don’t know those guys, or their system, and I’d rather go somewhere else. Doesn’t matter if it’s BYU, Utah, USC, or anywhere else. Under certain circumstances, that student should be able to switch. You talk about money invested in the player. Give me a break.
    What it looks like is Chow doesn’t want to lose a guy to BYU. That wound runs very deep, I think

  9. Sour Grapes?

    Mr. Chow obviously has bitter feelings about being passed over for a head coaching position at BYU many years ago. He has also forgotten who “got him on the map” and launched his career as an offensive coach. Coaches need to stop the stupidy and let kids play where they want. Take the high road like Larry Miller did when he let Derek Fischer out of his contract with the Jazz so he could better care for his family. Let players play where they want, within the rules. Chow technically has the right to refuse a release – the letter of the law; he also has the power to let this young man play where he’d like to play – the spirit of the law. Mr. Chow is in control – he can decide. I’d only hope he decides for the right reasons and not out of bitterness toward the school gave him a chance to succeed.

  10. Mark

    Scholarships are renewed year to year. This student athlete contributed to Hawaii for the year under his scholarship. Just because a school gives out a scholarship doesn’t mean that they own an athlete for 4 years. Student athlete coming and goings happen all the time in all college sports—it’s part of university athletics. Chow may (or may not) have been given the shaft by BYU back in the day, but he needs to get over it.

  11. deseretcareer

    Coaches who have “new coaching opportunities open up” may leave their contracts at Weber state and Utah U within 5 months and 8 months respectively and immediately coach at another school with no penalty! An athlete who’s fulfilled his contracted scholarship leaves for non-athletic reasons for two years and does zero organized physical training as a missionary is penalized for “new playing opportunities”.

  12. Parker West

    Unfortunately your logic is twisted, Hawaii has been as still is the transfer capital of the known college football world. You through the rooster how many ex-UCLA, ex-USC and other PAC12 players can you count. The academic requirements to attend Hawaii are so pathetically loose making it such an attractive home for the kids likely to draw academic suspensions from California schools. There once was an all-American WR and returner from BYU that went onto have a decent career with the Dallas Cowboys, between those two teams this first team all-American played for Hawaii after not being able to meet the academic and personal responsibility requirements at BYU. Did the Cougars moan and complain about losing the kid to a school who was in the as,e conference or to Kansas for adding their top high school QB recruit?

  13. John Melvin Dodd

    This is nonsense! Missions certainly aren’t a “farm system” for BYU football. But as I stated in an earlier post, even though I had two years of college in Texas before my mission and had never even considered going to BYU, by the time my mission was over it was the only school I wanted to go to. No one was trying to recruit me. I was not an athlete. But young men and women certainly might have a change of heart while serving a mission.

  14. Cougar Blue

    The point of the article is that coaches can transfer without consequences, but that athletes cannot. It would be fairer to have the same set of rules for everyone. Personally, I think players should be able to transfer whenever they want for whatever reason, and not lose eligibility time. Why should a basketball player, like Matt Carlino, for instance, lose playing time because his UCLA head coach is a bully who allows players to bully each other? Indeed, why do we limit playing time at all? What’s wrong with letting a student athlete play while he’s working on his PhD, Law, or Medical Degree?

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