Back in January Rick Majerus offended local Catholics (and particularly Archbishop Raymond Burke) when the Saint Louis University basketball coach publicly stated his support of stem-cell research and abortion rights.
The comments came at the close of a ten-minute interview on Monday, March 17, in which host Dan Patrick asked Majerus to quickly provide his picks for the tourney. "Let me run down the list," said Patrick. "You just say who you like. You don't have to tell me why unless it's a really insightful comment that the listeners will say, 'Damn, that was insightful.'"
When asked about the BYU-Texas A&M matchup, Majerus responded, "A&M. I don't like BYU from my Utah days. The magic underwear Mitt and those guys send themselves."
Huh? During his tenure at University of Utah, Majerus apparently learned quite a bit about the Mormon culture, including the practice of wearing temple garments under their clothes. The garments -- often referred to as "Mormon underwear" -- are traditionally worn by adherents as a reminder of their promise to live a virtuous life. Though as Slate reported prior to BYU's entrance in last year's tournament, few Mormons wear the garments while competing in sports.
In response to Majerus' comment, a laughing Patrick quickly changed the subject: "You're going to get me put on probation." But not everyone was willing to forgive and forget so quickly.
Posting last week on the sports site bleacherreport.com, blogger Andrew Perkins compared Majerus' comment to Don Imus' ill-fated musings on Rutgers' women's basketball team last year. "Whether or not he has any love towards Mormons is not the issue," wrote Perkins. "The issue is that Majerus said something that is discriminatory and disrespectful to a specific group of people."
Perkins isn't the only one whose shorts are bunched over the remarks. Responding to Perkins' blog post, a reader named Tracy Hall commented, "If Majerus had made a derogatory comment about a Jewish player's 'magic beanie,' he would have been fired on the spot. It's time to realize that anti-Mormons and anti-Semites belong to the same Klan."
No matter whom you support -- the SLU coach or the Mormons -- you can't argue with the coach's pick. The ninth-seeded Aggies beat number-eight seed BYU 67-62.