BYU is without a doubt one of the nation’s greatest institutions. However, when it comes to athletics, BYU (in terms of basketball) for years was looked as an easy victory for any program outside the WAC (Western Athletic Conference). The last success on the hardwood for this Mormon institution occurred back in 1981 when All-American, John R. Wooden Award winner and 2-time NBA champion Danny Ainge (currently the president of basketball operations for the Boston Celtics) ran the length on the court after receiving an in-bound pass with eight second left to hit a game-winning layup against Notre Dame which sent BYU to the Elite Eight, 51-50. This season, BYU rose from the dead to get back on the national basketball stage to earn the third-ranking of the top 25, with hopes of gaining a number one-seed in the NCAA Tournament in mid-March and make an impact. Those chances may be shot because BYU basically removed their sensational sophomore forward Brandon Davies from their team due to him being sexually active with his girlfriend, which violates the program’s honor code. BYU is respected for their strong, religious faith, but to suspend a player for the rest of the season for committing a non-criminal act is probably the most hypocritical decision a program could make. However, BYU’s action proves that values and ethics come first.
Davies has been a key factor for BYU’s success this season as he averaged 11.1 points (third highest on the team) per contest and led the Cougars in rebounds with 6.2 per game. Davies grew up in Provo, Utah and similar to all student athletes who select BYU to be the school they want to play for, the institution’s policies and honor code is known before he or she is recruited by the school.
“He was a real big key for us, a great teammate, great friend,” said junior forward Noah Hartsock, according to USA Today. “When you lose someone like that at this point in the season, it kind of throws you off. We wish him the best.”
BYU instituted their honor code in writing in the 1940’s, and it states that students must sustain from having sex, drug use, using profanity, smoking, and drinking coffee, tea and alcohol. What makes this ruling of suspending the 6-9 forward hypocritical is that rules and codes, similar to religion, are man-made standards that can’t be met at all times. In fact, Karl G. Maeser, the founder of BYU, who helped established the honor code, made mistakes himself because he was a man, like Davies.
BYU flexed their muscles and code last year when the institution dismissed running back Harvey Unga from the football team for violating the honor code (having sex), which caused him to miss his senior season. Fortunately for the NFL supplemental draft in 2010, Unga (BYU’s all-time leading rusher with 3,455 yards) was selected by the Chicago Bears in the seventh-round after he withdrew from the institution because he was unable to be reinstated until Jan. 2011. Unga and his girlfriend, Keilani Moeaki who was also removed from the women’s basketball team at BYU, were sexually active with each other in school, but they are now married.
The suspension of Davies paints a picture of perfection for BYU, which they are not. It was selfish and inappropriate for BYU to suspension Davies for the remainder of the season because it embarrasses the athlete (and his family) for being kicked off the team for not carting drugs in his bag, being involved in a domestic abuse or carrying an illegal weapon – but for having sex. Instead of suspension for the season, a couple of games would have been appropriate.
However, BYU demonstrated something that most people, institutions and companies would not do under any circumstances, taking a stand.
In a world that is driven by sex and money, BYU took a stand stating they don’t care how good or great an athlete from their institution may be and no matter what the outcome of success, which involves the generated money that will come, their values, ethics and standards come first. The Word of God is the only absolute thing to guarantee the greatest quality of life in the Mormon faith and that’s what BYU stands by. Having sex is common among people and is less than a minor offend compared to drugs and crime in today’s society, but for faith-based institutions, fornication is just as equivalent, as no sin is greater than other.
People, companies, institutions, and yes, churches have been known to compromise their values, ethics and standards if a situation personally affects them, especially if it involves finances. Hopefully, BYU’s action against Davies will make individuals realize that life is more than just making an abundance of money because BYU will lose out on a lot of cash because tournament wins increases account balances and Davies would have contributed to that gain.
“I think the most important thing the fans need to know is Brandon did the right thing,” said BYU head coach Dave Rose on the BYU Radio Network. “He made a mistake, but the way he handled it is the way it should be handled. There are a lot of things that have yet to be determined as far as the university and administration is concerned,” Rose said. “I know his heart is in the right place. He’s a great young man. I hope we can keep him in the program. He feels really bad for the fact that this is happening at this time.”
The questions now are, will Davies return to BYU for his junior year? Will Davies transfer to another school and how far will the Cougars go in the tournament despite having the nation’s top scorer in All-American guard Jimmer Fredette who averages 27.3 points per game?
“Wow,” said San Diego State forward Malcolm Thomas, according to the Huffington Post. “He’s a big-time player and without him, they’re still a good team. They’re still going to make a run.”
Time will tell, but despite BYU’s decision of suspending Davies for the remainder of the season it’s hypocritical because the powers that be aren’t perfect themselves and it’s embarrassing to the family, Brigham Young held true to their beliefs which in itself could be commended.