Ryan Smith Explained Why He Supports BYU

Jun 25, 2024, 11:21 AM | Updated: 11:26 am

SALT LAKE CITY Utah Jazz and Utah Hockey Club owner Ryan Smith supports BYU athletics.

There aren’t many games where you won’t find Smith, a BYU alum, and his family in the “Hollywood floor seats” near BYU basketball’s bench inside the Marriott Center.

Next year, those seats will be placed next to new BYU basketball head coach Kevin Young.

“It’s incredible that [Kevin Young] chose BYU because, after the movement we’ve seen in the NBA, he would definitely be in an NBA head coaching job,” Smith said to the KSL Sports Zone’s Hans & Scotty G.

The hiring of Young and his reported seven-year, $30 million contract has led many to wonder how involved Smith, who has a reported net worth of $2.2 billion, is in donating to BYU.

Ryan Smith explains why he supports BYU

Smith addressed why he supports BYU in an interview with Hans & Scotty G. (Weekdays, Noon-3 p.m.) on the KSL Sports Zone earlier this month.

“I think there’s a lot of questions on how involved I get. Also, I think there’s probably a lot of misconceptions around why I’m involved,” said Smith.

“In 1980, I was born in Eugene, Oregon. I was actually born in the same hospital as [Danny Ainge]. We’re both there in Eugene. My father was a professor at the University of Oregon. My siblings were born in Pennsylvania, State College, Penn State. And then we moved to Oregon. Oregon had what ended up being this business professor-ship with two Nobel Prize winners coming out. It was a little bit of the Mecca then, but it was also probably the Grateful Dead capital at that point as well. So, it was a very different culture. To go from UofO to BYU, to say it was probably a culture shock, was an understatement.

“But my parents, probably similar to KY, decided that this is probably best for the kids and the family right now. They took a bet on I’m going to BYU. So all five of us came out here. As I kind of go through my childhood, I grew up kind of roaming those halls of BYU and being there and the more I’ve gotten older, the more I realized as life happened, my parents split up, my dad took a year off to kind of be with us kids, because we were at a different phase of life, and it was a very critical one. And BYU supported him through that.

“Fast forward 10 years after that, my dad gets stage four throat cancer, and BYU supports him all the way through that, including working from home, resting, and keeping everything there. And we end up starting Qualtrics together. It was really at that moment when I was just spending time with my dad. I wasn’t the type that would go to BYU. I never viewed myself as a BYU student type of kid, whatever that was. But the profile wasn’t me–especially growing up. Then, as I went on my mission, I came back and said, ‘I want to go to BYU.’ I went to UVU first, but I wanted to go to BYU. And I had no college experience, nor was I qualified to get in, and I had to go prove myself. I got there and then met my wife and started Qualtrics and kind of the rest is history.

“So me supporting BYU is not about sports. It’s about how they supported my family when we were going through our craziest times like probably no employer I’ve ever seen. It would be really weird for me to be in the spot I’m in and not support them.”

Smith: Donating to universities is “more critical than ever”

Smith feels that donating to universities in Utah is more critical than ever.

“If you needed them at some point, well, now’s the time that they all need you. So that’s probably a little PSA for everyone, but I encourage it. I love it when my Ute friends are 100% in on the Utes. It makes our state better. We need everything to thrive, and it doesn’t take much. There are powers in numbers. That’s my reasoning for why I try to help.

“BYU knows that they’ve got my help. If I can be helpful, and there’s a lot I can’t be helpful, but if I can be helpful, I will. And that’s how it should be everywhere in this state.”

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and hosts the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X: @Mitch_Harper.

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Ryan Smith Explained Why He Supports BYU