Provo » For the first time since BYU's stunning announcement a week ago that guard Michael Loyd Jr. was leaving the basketball program, coach Dave Rose and Loyd spoke publicly Wednesday afternoon about why the rising star will not suit up for the Cougars next fall.
The Salt Lake Tribune caught up with Loyd after he played in a pickup basketball game with his former teammates and players from other Division I schools at the Richards Building on campus. A half-hour later, Rose addressed a group of reporters at the Marriott Center's Cougar Room.
Loyd said he was "definitely released" from his scholarship and that "if it were totally up to me, I would stay. I like it here."
Having said in last week's school news release that the decision for Loyd to leave was mutual, Rose more or less acknowledged Wednesday that the player was pushed out the door for not complying with team rules and regulations. But the coach did not specify what those were.
"The situation with Mike basically came down to accountability issues and responsibility issues, and things that we had discussed many times.
"When it came right down to it, we just felt that the direction that we were going as a team and as a program, and the things that we felt were really, really important. ... Mike struggled with some of those issues," Rose said. "So the best thing for us to do was kinda go in different directions. And that is kind of how it happened."
Asked about the difficulty of losing a player who seemed destined for stardom after showing glimpses of brilliance in several late-season games last year, Rose said it was one of the toughest things he has had to do as a coach.
"You want to make sure that you are doing the right thing for both parties," Rose said. "In this situation, I think Mike and I both feel like this is the right thing to do."
But Loyd said a half-dozen times in a 10-minute interview that he liked his time at BYU and did not want to leave.
He reiterated that he is academically eligible and had not run afoul of the school's honor code, but did acknowledge that staying eligible was extremely difficult and was going to get even harder.
"How do I put this?" he said. "School is hard for me. I was released more for academics [than any other reason], I would say. There is a lot of stress on me. It is a tough school, a great school. ... It took a lot of work, a lot of time. It was a constant struggle for me to be eligible."
Sources have told The Tribune that Loyd was late for team meetings on several occasions, and skipped classes and scheduled meetings with tutors, among other missteps that continually got him on Rose's bad side. And some of his antics such as having a mohawk hairdo during BYU's NCAA Tournament games, or having a pierced tongue, or wearing his trousers extra low, didn't help.
Loyd acknowledged Wednesday that he struggled with some of those things, and that he wasn't "the model BYU basketball player." But he said conforming at one of the most conservative college campuses in the country was not as difficult for him as some have suggested.
"I am still fuzzy about all the reasons I got released," he said. "It might be just little things. It might be they are tired [of dealing] with me. Because I feel like the school is very strongly based on religion, and the [honor] code. They try not to give anybody any leeway. I know they care about the [basketball] program, and I have proven myself on the court. But they obviously care more about what they stand for than basketball."
Loyd said he has 83 credit hours at BYU and is a year away from getting his degree. He is still deciding whether he wants to transfer to a Division II program and have two years of eligibility remaining, or transfer to a Division I program, which would require him to sit out a year and have just one year of eligibility left.
Another option he's considering, he said, is to turn professional and look at possibilities of playing overseas.
Loyd Jr. forced out door at BYU
BYU basketball » No word yet on what Jimmer Fredette will do. Rose said Fredette worked out for Oklahoma City on Monday and for Boston on Wednesday. He did not want to say the teams Fredette will work out for on Thursday and Friday.
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