Church News and Events

Legacy Hall Tells the Story of BYU Sports

  Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer

  • 22 February 2013

A large interactive display at the Brigham Young University Legacy Hall chronicles the impressive number of BYU athletes who have served the Church as full-time missionaries throughout the world. A three-dimensional map shows where athletes have been called.   Photo by Jason Swensen.

For hard-core Cougar fans, a visit to Brigham Young University’s Legacy Hall promises double helpings of wonder and BYU sports memories.

Here in this three-story atrium located on the west side of the Church-owned school, visitors can relive—or perhaps experience for the first time—the glory of, say, the Cougars’ 1984 football national championship, Danny Ainge’s storied coast-to-coast drive against Notre Dame, and the rise of a BYU hoopster referenced worldwide by a single name—Jimmer.

Brigham Young University’s Legacy Hall is a three-story atrium that celebrates the history of Cougar sports. Fans can view hundreds of trophies, photos, and interactive displays that double as reminders of BYU’s athletic legacy. The museum is located in the BYU Student Athlete Center. Photo by Jason Swensen.

BYU has sponsored an athletic program for over a century. Thanks to its Church affiliation and international student body, Cougar fans can be found across the globe. Legacy Hall gathers in one locale many of the trophies, awards, and images that have defined the school’s rich athletic tradition and legacy.

Opened in 2004, the 7,436 square-foot hall includes dozens of display cases and wall displays that tell the story of BYU sports. Even casual Cougar watchers will recognize many of the items on display, including:

• Steve Young’s NFL Super Bowl MVP trophy.

• The John Wooden Awards given to both Danny Ainge and Jimmer Fredette—recognizing athletes from two different eras as the top players in college basketball.

• The golf bag used by alum Mike Weir when he won the 2003 Masters in Augusta, Georgia.

• Ty Detmer’s 1990 Heisman Trophy—the first and only Heisman awarded to a BYU football player.

But even the most “fanatical” fan will likely learn something new at Legacy Hall. Several of the museum’s wall displays and video kiosks celebrate the national achievements of BYU athletes in events that don’t often claim space on the front of the sports section, including swimming, cross country, women’s soccer, and men’s volleyball.

The museum also includes several items noting the accomplishments of BYU athletes at the Olympics and in the professional ranks. Admission to Legacy Hall is free of charge and open to all ages. Youngsters enjoy the many interactive features and video displays. They can even stand toe-to-toe with a silhouette of 7-foot-6-inch BYU center Shawn Bradley.

A popular display includes Ty Detmer’s 1990 Heisman Trophy—the first and only Heisman awarded to a BYU player. Photo by Jason Swensen.

Another highlight is the “Called to Serve” display located on the east end of the museum. The names of BYU athletes who have served or are presently serving full-time missions are attached to a large map of the world. Photos of returned missionaries include a missionary-era image of Dennis Pitta, a former BYU gridder who recently scored a touchdown in the Super Bowl.

Every year, the museum makes space to accommodate new achievements in BYU athletics. Legacy Hall shares space with BYU’s Student Athlete Center, just north of the George Albert Smith Fieldhouse. So each day, current BYU athletes walk past inspiring reminders of past Cougar glory. The center’s director, Trevor Wilson, said the museum remains a powerful recruiting tool for would-be Cougars visiting the campus. Hundreds of other fans can be expected to take in Legacy Hall each week during busy football weekends and other popular sporting events. The museum is staffed almost entirely by volunteers.

Legacy Hall is open Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. Tours are available. For more information, call 1-801-422-2118.

Brigham Young University’s Legacy Hall is a three-story atrium that celebrates the history of Cougar sports. Fans can view hundreds of trophies, photos, and interactive displays that double as reminders of BYU’s athletic legacy. The museum is located in the BYU Student Athlete Center. Photo by Jason Swensen.