BYU recently chose to rescind the diploma of Chad Hardy, the missionary calendar guy, because he was excommunicated from the church between the time he earned his degree and the graduation ceremony. According to this AP story, Hardy completed his courses in June and was awarded a degree at graduation exercises in August, but Norman B. Finlinson, an administrator at BYU, has since sent Hardy a letter saying the degree has been revoked because he had been excommunicated in July. Hardy says he’s going to “fight this tooth-and-nail,” indicating he’s going to sue BYU for his degree.
It’s hard to know why BYU would choose to prolong the Chad Hardy PR disaster. The best explanation is that BYU administrators watch late night comedy shows wondering, Why Aren’t There More Jokes about BYU? Or they sit around wondering how they can really give the Men on a Mission franchise a shot in the arm with a huge dose of free publicity. This law suit will guarantee Hardy, who’s shown he understands the media well, a half dozen news cycles over the next year or two (announcing this letter, the filing of the law suit, BYU’s response, the hearings, the ruling; the appeal, BYU’s response, the hearings, the ruling).
After BYU’s administrators help Hardy sell an extra hundred thousand Men on a Mission calendars, expand his product line and make him a national symbol of Freedom of Expression, they’ll probably realize Hardy didn’t accept their fight because he wanted the diploma.