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Classless? BYU officials make students remove “Horns Down” T-shirts during Cougars’ win over Texas

BYU coach Mark Pope said postgame that the shirts “are not us” and were not in good taste

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BYU students try to disrupt Houston Cougars forward J’Wan Roberts as he shoots a free throw at the Marriott Center in Provo.

Brigham Young Cougars students try to disrupt Houston Cougars forward J’Wan Roberts (13) as he shoots a free throw as BYU and Houston play at the Marriott Center in Provo on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. Houston won 75-68.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

The debate over whether it is classless or not to mock the famous University of Texas’ longhorns up hand sign reached the Marriott Center in Provo on Saturday afternoon.

For the first six-plus minutes of the first half in the BYU-Texas basketball game, BYU students sitting on the front row adjacent to Texas’ bench wore T-shirts that spelled out “HORNSDOWN” with each of the nine students sporting a different letter across their chest.

After the first media timeout, which came with 13:42 left on the clock, the students were asked to remove the shirts by BYU officials, and they obliged.

A BYU spokesperson confirmed that the request did not come from Texas coach Rodney Terry, or anyone associated with that university.

BYU coach Mark Pope addressed the situation after his postgame news conference without having been asked about it.

“From the ROC (BYU’s student section, the Roar of Cougars), and from our players, and from our student body, that is just not us,” Pope said.

“That’s not how we roll. It was just a miscalculation on (the part of) a couple eager kids, which we love the eagerness of these fans. It is just not what we do here. We love all 18,000 people in this gym. They were incredible tonight. Just so you know, that is not something that we are supporting.”

A sellout crowd of 17,978 watched the Cougars down the Longhorns 84-72 to move to 3-4 in the Big 12, 15-5 overall.

After the game, Terry did not address the T-shirts, but praised BYU’s crowd.

“First of all, great environment today. Great atmosphere. BYU fans came in and really supported their team really well, really got behind their guys,” Terry said.

“We knew today we were going to get a team that was going to be ready to play coming off a tough loss against Houston. Mark had his group ready to play. They are a good team.”

After Texas fell to UCF on Jan. 18 in Austin, Texas, Terry criticized some UCF players when their celebration after the game included some Horns Down hand gestures, including in the handshake line.

He told the UCF players in the line that the gesture was “classless,” and repeated it in his postgame news conference. He later apologized.

“I am a big believer in, you win the right way and you lose the right way,” Terry said immediately after that game. “You carry yourself the right way.

“You don’t get to the handshake line, and prior to the handshake line, you have about six or seven guys putting the “Horns Down.” We don’t do that, because when you do those kinds of things, it looks very classless, and it also looks like you were just hoping to win.”

In the final few minutes of Saturday’s game, when it was apparent that the Cougars were going to emerge victorious, BYU students started chanting “S-E-C, S-E-C” at Texas bench.

The Longhorns are leaving the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference after this academic school year.