Tough Admission Standards Delay Tuinei's BYU Plan

Highly regarded linebacker recruit <b>Ben Tuinei</b> cannot play football for BYU until he is accepted to the Provo school, <b></b> has learned.

A BYU athletic department official refused to elaborate or confirm any details on Tuinei's situation, noting they "cannot comment on prospective student-athletes, especially comments on why we may not have extended an offer to attend camp or offered a scholarship."

Meanwhile, Tuinei confirmed tonight his grades from the University of Arizona were not sufficient for him to gain admission to BYU, which has more stringent academic qualifications.

Tuinei left for an LDS mission to Auckland, New Zealand, after attending Arizona for one year. Though they held a scholarship for him, he decided not to return to the PAC-10 school after his mission, saying his priorities had changed.

After moving to Utah, he declined a scholarship offer from the University of Utah and confirmed his intent to walk on at BYU instead.

There is no doubt the Cougars would love to have Tuinei and recognize his skills and talents, but there is nothing they can do until he gains admission. Since he is not a scholarship student, Tuinei has to meet the same admission standards required of any regular incoming student.

Tuinei told he was contacted today by BYU assistant coach Steve Kaufusi and they discussed his options.

* Attend a junior college (JC) until he improves his grades enough to qualify for admission to BYU and then transfer. If he elected to attend Snow or Dixie Junior College, he could play football this fall and work on improving his grades.

* Tuinei does not have to graduate from a JC because he was already academically eligible out of high school.

"I've got extra financial obligations now and I have to think hard and pray about this," Tuinei said, adding "it's not a matter of getting there (college degree), it's just a matter of when."

Tuinei said completing his college education remains his top priority and said he will discuss his immediate options with his father, who is visiting from American Samoa next week.

Because of his burgeoning career as a realtor in Provo, Tuinei said he might work "really hard this fall and then put real estate on the side and take a full load starting in January at UVSC (Utah Valley State College in Orem).

He confirmed his interest in attending and playing football at BYU has not diminished.

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