Thursday, March 3, 2011

BYU and its Honor Code

On Tuesday night Brigham Young University aka BYU released a statement saying that sophomore forward Brandon Davies was being suspended for the rest of the basketball season for breaking the BYU Honor Code.  It was later discovered that the infraction Davies committed was having premarital sex with his girlfriend which violates rule #2 'Live a chaste and virtuous life'

BYU Honor Code from Undergraduate Handbook

1. Be honest
2. Life a chaste and virtuous life
3. Obey the law and all campus policies
4. Use clean language
5. Respect others
6. Abstain from alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and substance abuse
7. Participate regularly in church services
8. Observe the Dress and Grooming standards

In the wake of the suspension there has been quite a bit of public outcry claiming that BYU doesn't have the right to suspend Davies for his actions.  Others feel that suspending a 19 year old kid just for having sex is ridiculous.  People have also bashed the Honor Code itself saying that its unconstitutional and that the point of college is violate all of those rules.

BYU is a private institution and therefore can have any policy it chooses in terms of how the students and faculty are expected to behave.  Danny Ainge, arguably one of the greatest athletes ever to graduate from BYU, told, "You go through two interviews and sign a contract saying you'll uphold the honor code.  People will ridicule it because they don't understand it."

In response to the popular public response head coach of the BYU Cougars men's basketball team Dave Rose told ESPN, "Everybody who comes to BYU, every student if they're an athlete or not an athlete, they make a commitment when they come.  A lot of people try to judge if this is right or wrong, but it's a commitment they make. It's not about right or wrong. It's about commitment."

I am inclined to agree with Rose.  I think people are focusing on the wrong part of this story, the fact that Davies got laid, rather than focusing on the fact that he signed this Honor Code which is basically a contract and then committed an offense that violated that contract.  If anything people should be applauding BYU for taking this harsh action rather than doing what 99% of other schools in the NCAA would do which is turn a blind eye and pretend nothing ever happened.

Davies was a vital part of BYU's success this year as he lead the team in rebounding with 6.2 per game and also chipped in 11.1 points.  His defense is outstanding and was one of the main reasons BYU was able to beat rival San Diego State last week and is also a big reason why the Cougars are (27-2, 13-1) and the No. 3 seed in the country.

BYU was a big favorite going into March Madness and a lot of people had them making a deep run but without Davies its going to be difficult, if not impossible.  That makes the decision by BYU to suspend Davies even more commendable as they put the honor of their institution above athletics which is extremely rare in today's NCAA.

Try going on ESPN or Sports Illustrated and not reading a story about a college athlete being involved in some sort of serious crime whether it be theft, assault or drugs.  For the most part these kids are simply disciplined by the team or suspended for a game or two, in rare cases they are given the Heisman Trophy. Yet these stories have become far too common for most people to even care but people are for some reason outraged about the Davies story.

Davies knew what he was getting in to when he was recruited.  He is a Mormon and knows that the Honor Code at BYU is not just a simple document to be ignored but is a code of beliefs on how all Mormons should act.  He understood the consequences for his actions, hell he even told the coaches about himself therefore abiding by Rule #1 of the Honor Code - 'be honest.'  This kid obviously has a lot of character and feels bad for what he did. 

It is unfortunate that this young may will have to miss the rest of the season (and may very well be kicked out of school) but that's the way BYU does things and that's exactly what he agreed to when he signed his letter of intent.  Outsiders may feel that the punishment does not fit the crime but that's exactly what makes them 'outsiders.'

It may not seem fair to you but as the saying goes, "rules is rules."

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