RELIGION

Influential Mormons push for church-owned BYU in Big 12

Some of Utah's most influential Mormons, including Mitt Romney, Gov. Gary Herbert and the president of the Utah Jazz, are lobbying to get the private, Mormon church-owned Brigham Young University an invitation to join the lucrative Big 12 athletic conference.

Jazz president Steve Starks says BYU was asked not to directly lobby other universities, so Starks instead has been working to drum up support for the Provo school and enlisted help from the Utah governor's office.

Starks, a Mormon, says the university's entrance into the conference would be good for Utah and Utah sports.

The Utah governor's office says Herbert has reached out to governors in Texas and Oklahoma, urging them to support BYU if they discuss the issue with the universities in their state that are powerful members of the conference.

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Associated Press writers Paul Weber in Austin and Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.