Johnsen to leave program.
May 1, 1998
University of Utah Basketball player Britton Johnsen has announced that he will take two years off from school and his basketball career to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Johnsen has not yet received his call but he expects to leave sometime this summer.
As a freshman for the Utes this season Johnsen played in 21 games averaging 3.5 points and 1.6 rebounds per game. He came on strong in the NCAA Tournament averaging 6.2 points and 2.2 rebounds per game during tournament play. He scored 8 points in the Utes' win over Arkansas and had 7 points against West Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky in the NCAA Championship game. He missed most of pre-season practice, and the first eight games of the season, with patella tendinitis in his left knee.
Ute coach Rick Majerus said he will support Johnsen in his decision. "Britton has advised me that he wants to go on his mission," said Majerus. "As with numerous missionaries we have had in our program I support him wholeheartedly. I respect his decision and wish him nothing but personal fulfillment on this important endeavor. It is of paramount importance and an essential aspect of the young man's faith so I offer my best wishes and blessings. I know he will be supported by his teammates and the University community as a whole. We are pleased that he has found the inner peace and happiness that can be derived from the missionary experience that is so much a part of the Latter Day Saint faith."
"Although we are a state university, we have made every accommodation and provided encouragement to all of our Mormon players relative to the mission experience because it is of such great importance to their religious and spiritual well being," explained the Ute coach. "It is with regret and sadness, from a basketball standpoint, that Britton departs, but I am pleased because he seems to be so at peace and happy about the decision. Therefore I support it wholeheartedly in its entirety."
"Although I will never join the religion myself," commented Majerus, "I am proud to be a coach of so many young men that felt so good about a religious experience that they would want to sacrifice their basketball experience and delay it so they might help others in their quest to find inner peace, spiritual fulfillment and happiness. It is an honor and a privilege for me to coach so many young, Mormon men and therefore I give Britton all my support."
Johnsen said he felt the decision to go on a mission was the right thing for him to do at this time.
"I've made this decision on my own. This is what I want to do," said Johnsen "It's what I've wanted to do for a long time. I've thought a little bit about staying and I'd love to stay just because our fans are so great and this is such a great program. I love playing for Coach Majerus and he's really taught me a lot this year. This is a decision I've made on my own. My parents told me they would support me either way and this what I've decided to do."