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BYU needs approval from NCAA to play

Cougs confident game vs. Tulane will be approved

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PROVO — BYU coach Gary Crowton would like nothing more than to open his inaugural season at home, and on national television, against Tulane.

The Cougars have accepted an invitation to host the Aug. 25 Black Coaches Association Classic versus the Green Wave, but the NCAA still must decide if the game will take place.

Because NCAA rules state that a team can play in a preseason game like the BCA Classic once every four years, BYU is seeking a waiver from the NCAA since it participated in last season's Pigskin Classic against Florida State.

BYU athletic director Val Hale said he is confident the exemption will be granted. Same goes for Crowton.

"We're going to move forward as if we're going to play (on Aug. 25)," Crowton said. "We're excited to face a team like Tulane."

In order to prepare for the additional game, which is less than two months away, Crowton will move up fall camp one week. BYU plans to begin practicing on Aug. 4.

Crowton is very familiar with the BCA Classic. As the head coach at Louisiana Tech from 1995-98, he took his Bulldog team to Nebraska to face the Cornhuskers in the 1998 BCA Classic. Though Louisiana Tech lost, 56-27, he and his program attracted national attention and respect by rolling up more than 500 passing yards against the Nebraska defense.

Crowton is also very familiar with Tulane football. He recruited a number of current Green Wave players while he was at Louisiana Tech, and he, like BYU, owns an 0-1 record against Tulane. The Bulldogs fell to their in-state rivals in 1998, 63-30.

In December of that same year, Crowton sat in the stands at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn., and watched the Green Wave defeat BYU, 41-27. Tulane finished with a perfect 12-0 campaign and ranked in the Top 10.

Cougar cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell is among those who remembers that drubbing well.

"It will be a great opportunity to redeem ourselves from the Liberty Bowl," Mitchell said.

Mitchell is a member of the BCA, and he welcomes the exposure both the BCA and BYU would receive from the game. The BCA is a nonprofit organization devoted to fostering the development of minorities in sports.

The Gazelle Group, a sports marketing firm that has been involved in the scheduling for the BCA Classic, was reportedly turned down by Kansas State, Southern Cal and Penn State before approaching BYU.

Last Thursday, the Gazelle Group contacted BYU athletic business manager Mike King to gauge the school's interest in the game. King tracked down Hale, who was in Hawaii at the time. Hale and other BYU administrators, including President Merrill J. Bateman, agreed to accept the invitation to host the BCA Classic. Now they await the NCAA's approval. A decision is expected within the next two weeks.

If approval is granted, the BYU-Tulane game will kick off at 2:30 p.m. and will be televised nationally on ESPN2. Season-ticket holders can purchase tickets at a discounted price until July 18.

E-mail: jeffc@desnews.com