Give BYU Credit For Enforcing Code

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - March 09, 2011
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In a community where nearly anything related to BYU conjures up images of original sin, it may seem risky to heap praise on the Provo school that, for decades, abused Hawaii’s favorite athletic program.

But fair is fair. While BYU’s honor code may seem unenforceable and outdated, the school’s adherence to the policy that directs its students to follow a strict code of conduct based on the university’s religious foundation, even if it costs them athletically, is admirable.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported last week forward Brandon Davies was dismissed from the basketball team after admitting to having sex with his girlfriend. At nearly every other school in the nation, such a revelation would be greeted with complete disinterest. After all, sex in college is as common as Sunday night cram sessions. But BYU views such conduct in a much different light. Its honor code requires students to “live a chaste and virtuous life,” in addition to other social requirements that secular institutions would be wise to adopt: being honest, obey the law, use clean language, respect others, observe grooming standards.


The school’s actions become even more noteworthy in the face of a Sports Illustrated/CBS News study that found 7 percent

of college football players on teams in SI‘s top 25 have been charged or cited for a crime. Of the 277 incidents uncovered, 40 percent involved violent crimes: assault, domestic violence, robbery and sexual offenses. The numbers would be higher, but many states do not release juvenile criminal records. According to the report, 80 percent of the student-athletes investigated fell under such laws. SI.com writer B.J. Schecter called the 7 percent figure a “very conservative baseline” since both Texas and California, two major football recruiting areas, carefully guard juvenile records. He and fellow writer Andy Staples estimated the number could be doubled if all records were available or if they had included minor crimes.

BYU’s concern over maintaining strict adherence clearly separates it from the lack of accountability at most universities. Just last week Washington State guard Klay Thompson was suspended for one game after being cited for possessing 1.95 grams of marijuana. In January, teammate Reggie Moore was suspended for one game after being arrested on similar charges.

The talented post player is not the only BYU student to run afoul of the strict behavioral policies. Last year running back Harvey Unga, the team’s all-time leading rusher, voluntarily left school and missed his entire senior season because of an honor code violation.


Davies’ future with the team does not appear to be over. He remains in school as the Honor Code Office finishes its investigation. Coach Dave Rose told the Tribune he believes the sophomore will eventually be allowed to rejoin the team, but didn’t speculate on when that would be. The 19-year-old is not listed on the Cougars’ current roster, but remains on their historical roster. So it seems the school is leaving the door open for his return. Which is a good thing.

Davies’ crime was being human. He gave into the desire and emotional fulfillment that sex can offer. Teenage hormones can do that. That doesn’t make what he did right in the eyes of the school and the behavioral contract into which he voluntarily entered.

BYU needs to be tough, but it must also show compassion. After all, discipline means little if not paired with forgiveness.

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