BYU basketball star Bradon Davies was suspended from the basketball team this week, reportedly for admitting to having premarital sex. Read more on the case here.
BYU’s Brandon Davies dunks against Colorado State’s during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Provo, Utah, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011. BYU beat Colorado State 84-76. (AP Photo/George Frey) (George Frey – AP)
When I first heard about Brandon Davies suspension from BYU basketball for an honor code violation, my instantaneous reaction was probably like everyone else’s: “Oh no, what’s that going to do to this incredible BYU season?” About one nanosecond later, the next thought: “But good for BYU for its stand on principle.”
I wondered about the public reaction, however. Were we about to see endless commentaries about how the honor code was too strict, and that Brigham Young University needed to move into the 21st century? My first inkling that something different was about to happen came the next morning when Joe Scarborough was having his usual round-table conversation on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Amid the banter came this clear message: At a time when so many people and institutions rationalize behavior, here at last is a stand on principle. Whether or not you agree with the specifics of the honor code, the school was willing to sacrifice popularity and acclaim for a principle. Someone on the set even wondered whether they could send their kids to BYU.
That sentiment was echoed through the day – on ESPN, USA Today, and in newspapers and blogs from San Diego to New York. The principle is clear. We commit to a standard of behavior, and then we do what we say we’ll do. That’s what an honor code is. It’s facing consequences for our choices. It’s certainly what Mormons believe. It’s consistent with doing our best to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.
But fortunately, it doesn’t end there. BYU isn’t going to throw this young man aside. Ultimately, the honor code is as much about the individual as the team or the school. Brandon Davies is more than a trending topic on Google. He is a young man full of energy, talent and opportunity, all of which remain present as he moves through what is undoubtedly a difficult time in his life. While this one mistake may redirect his life for a time it does not define who he is. Those that care for him, including his church leaders, are reaching out to help, guide and support. Friends, family and true fans likewise. There are a lot of people at BYU who will do all they can to help Brandon get through this trial in his life and come out on top. He isn’t just an athlete, but a child of God. No one knows yet how that will happen, but I do know that they will do everything they can to make it work and help him put all this behind him.
It was interesting to read about another BYU athlete’s reaction to all of this. Former BYU football star Reno Mahe suffered a similar tough lesson in 1998 after an honor code violation got him dropped from the football program.
“I’ve always shared this with people, that it was probably one of the best things that had happened to me,” he told the Deseret News in Salt Lake City. “I appreciate what BYU did to me. I appreciate the honor code and what it stands for. I appreciate that they enforce it. You get a lot of schools that say they have codes, but I don’t think anyone enforces it like BYU does…. It’s a great school. It’s a one-of-a-kind school.” As everyone knows, Reno went back to BYU and ended up playing in the NFL.
BYU is a one-of-a-kind school. But it’s not the only school with principles or honor codes. And wouldn’t it be a good thing if such principles and standards were so well and routinely enthroned that when they were applied in cases of honor code violations, they didn’t generate coast to coast publicity.