When Samford transfer point guard Ques Glover suddenly left BYU, right in the middle of two-a-day practices and prep for an overseas trip to Croatia, it caught the Cougars short-handed big time.

Head coach Mark Pope said he was saddened by Glover’s departure, telling reporters on Friday that it was all based on NIL money. NIL is a burgeoning impact trend in the NCAA now and centers on money paid to athletes for use of their name, image and likeness.

Pope took full responsibility for Glover not getting the NIL opportunities at BYU that he came looking for.

“I was super sad about it,” said Pope. “That’s the best answer for me to give.”

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Glover signed to play at BYU in May after transferring from Samford and would have been a part of the point guard solutions for the Cougars heading into the Big 12. He signed with Florida out of high school.

BYU is days away from a trip to Croatia and Italy — a key strategy in building Pope’s team. BYU has lost recruits in both football and basketball due to competing offers for NIL money.

“He was a perfect fit at BYU,” said Pope. “He fit into our system. He is an enormously talented young man and had a ton of miles.”

Glover was one of the top transfer target guards in the transfer portal this winter. He was named the Knoxville Sentinel Player of the Year in High School in 2018 in Tennessee.

Ques Glover, who started his college career at Florida before starring at Samford the past two seasons, signed with BYU as a graduate transfer this offseason. Now he’s re-opened his recruitment and left BYU before ever playing for the Cougars. | John Amis, Associated Press

Shooting guard Jaxson Robinson said he got very close to Glover during the time he was on BYU’s campus this summer and considered him a close friend.  “We will miss him,” said Robinson.

Sophomore guard Richie Saunders said, “It is what it is. He did what is best for him. We just go on. I believe in our backcourt talent with Dallin Hall and Trey Stewart and what we can do.”

Pope said he is now challenged with filling two scholarships — one that was open and the one Glover would have used.

“It’s late,” said Pope. “We are paying attention to everything that’s going on. We’re still having a lot of conversations.”

Pope said who he brings in will have to be special or have a special upside — either a multiyear player or a one-year player who can come in and provide some physicality on the front line along with Fouss Traore and Atiki Ali Atiki, or someone with skills to help in the backcourt with ball security.

“It has to be the right fit.”

Pope isn’t just going to grab a person to plug in. “That’s not what we do here.”

The BYU coach said the biggest challenge he has heading into Big 12 play hinges on team unity, getting together and being extremely close. That’s why the trip to Croatia is so important in building team chemistry.

Pope said the NIL challenge is a big one. He credited athletic director Tom Holmoe and deputy athletic director Brian Santiago with working to help build NIL contacts and collectives, but claimed he himself has to do a better job making NIL contacts and selling them on what he’s trying to do.

Pope explained 30% to 40% of his time as head coach right now is spent working on the NIL challenge. “It’s what college sports is all about right now.”

“It’s complicated,” said Pope, who also said it is pretty simple. “It’s my job is to do as rules allow and fundraise. The NCAA allows student athletes to meet with NIL entities, even provide a space for them to meet with players. I can’t do that with prospective athletes.”

Pope said he needs to be better at taking care of his players with NIL — getting them opportunities with collectives — which the NCAA allows him to do with roster players but not recruits.

“Tom and Brian have done an unbelievable job and I am not getting the job done in terms of rallying the troops in my job. I’m taking it really serious because it is the defining feature of college basketball right now,” Pope said.

“If you want to point the finger at why Ques left, it is on me because I didn’t get the job done.”

BYU men’s basketball players go through drills during practice on the university’s campus on Friday, Aug. 11, 2023. | Nate Edwards/BYU Photo