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Utah: Where sports fandoms and politics meet

If House Speaker Greg Hughes isn’t going to pay back the state of Utah for the $203,000 he wasted, he should at least apologize for leading the first-ever state audit of a single athletic department.

Since neither is likely to happen, the University of Utah should respond by cancelling all future football and basketball games they have scheduled with Brigham Young University.

Let’s begin with a little background.

In a basketball game on Dec. 2, 2015, a player from BYU’s team sucker punched a player on Utah’s team.

A few days after the sucker punch, Larry Krystkowiak, head coach at Utah, and Chris Hill, athletic director at Utah, canceled the upcoming game against BYU scheduled for the following year in Provo.

Krystkowiak said the game between the two schools had become venomous and would benefit from a “cooling off” period.

Canceling agreed upon athletic events isn’t uncommon in college athletics, but it almost always comes with the other school getting a payout.

Krystkowiak paid BYU $80,000, and the upcoming game was legally ended between the schools by way of financial payout.

Even though Utah legally exercised its right to opt out of the upcoming game, some BYU fans murmured about the game being cancelled. Hughes, a BYU alum, was one of those fans.

What ensued from Hughes was retaliation in the form of an audit handed down by the state Legislature.

The results of the audit are now public and the findings were minor infractions of financial and inventory protocols.

In a state with some of the worst air quality, highest rates of autism, depression, theocracy, suicide and prescription drug abuse, lawmakers decided taxpayer money would be best spent auditing Utah’s athletic program.

There was zero merit for the audit, which was done simply in an effort to punish Utah for cancelling the game, and people who don’t care about sports should demand an apology for the frivolous waste of taxpayer money.

Sen. Jim Dabakis recently called the audit “preposterous” in an article in “The Salt Lake Tribune.”

“The audit was done for a foolish reason of punishment,” he said, calling on the Legislature to apologize to the University. “I hope that Chris Hill will get a giant apology for paying this price for being dragged through the mud in the media for an audit that just should never have happened.”

Thank God for Dabakis for opposing some of the BYU-biased politicians who run the state. Utah could use more politicians like him.

The sad reality is that taxpayers or the University of Utah will never get an apology from Hughes, BYU alum Gov. Gary Herbert or any others in the state Legislature.

Hughes won’t be impeached for his abuse of power and waste of state resources. But there is a way to hinder his ridiculous protection of a religious private school 45 miles south of the capital.

Utah now has the opportunity to hit some of the BYU political fanboys where it hurts, and that’s by cancelling all future football and basketball games between the two schools.

Utah plays in a conference that affords them financial and athletic advantages over BYU, which doesn’t play in a conference at all.

Simply put, BYU needs Utah a lot more than Utah needs BYU, which puts Utah in a position of power.

Hughes and the Legislature abused their political power with the audit, and now Utah should abuse its power and end all games with BYU.

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