Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Changes Coming to Mormon Missions

The Church of Latter Day Saints has announced a change to their mission rules, as announced last weekend. From the Salt Lake Tribune:

At last weekend’s General Conference in Salt Lake City, church leaders announced they were lowering the minimum mission age from 21 to 19 for women and from 19 to 18 for men. The policy change, which takes immediate effect, is expected to have a profound influence on college life across Utah, whose universities bid a temporary farewell each year to thousands of students answering the call of their church.
This will likely mainly affect schools in Utah, which is important for the Big Sky, which features both Southern Utah and Weber State.

Rob Dauster, who writes pretty much everywhere in the college basketball world, wrote a nice article on this issue for SI, and how it will be good for colleges, because it may help them in their planning.

While the rule change will make it significantly less likely that a school recruiting an LDS player intent on going on a mission will see an immediate impact from him, it's actually a change that will be beneficial to the programs.

"It's actually what we would prefer," said Stew Morrill, the coach at Utah State, a program that he estimates has between three and five missionaries on scholarship every season. "What we've always done is if a kid's old enough, if he's got a birthday that makes him 19 before he would enter college, about half the time that's the case, than we encourage them to go right away."
While there will be some issues during the implementation phase of this, it seems like it will be to the programs' benefit over the long-run. However, I know a lot of readers are a lot more tuned in on this issue than me, so I would love to hear your thoughts on what impact it will have?

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1 comment:

  1. I like the idea of moving the age to 18. I think a school still takes a risk in signing a mission kid, but it seems to be somewhat reduced now. If a kid is good enough to play as an 18 year old, I almost feel like he is getting a year to "audtion" against college level competition before leaving on a 2 year mission. An athlete is able to be re-recruited after one year, so the school who originally signed him undertakes some risk.

    A couple of examples. Riley Nelson, the QB currently at BYU, originally signed and played at Utah State. After he went on a mission, his father has stated that BYU asked and received permission from the mission president to contact him. This opened up a can of worms, because many were left wondering if the mission president would have given permission to non-mormon schools asking to contact him. Regardless, he ended up signing and transferring to BYU. ISU had a good freshman player in the 90's, Justin Jones, and something similar happened with him. He left for a mission, and after at least a year, he was contact by Larry Eustachey (then at Utah State). Jones ended up enrolling and playing at USU upon returning from his mission. They didn't lose a year of eligibility by doing this, either.

    Now, a kid can go on his mission at 18 and still have 5 years to play 4 when he returns. If he's still committed to play, he can redshirt that first year to get back into the swing of things. If he decides to transfer any time after that, he would need to sit out at least a year if at the same division. It seems a little more fair for the school which initially took the risk of signing him.