“Live a chaste and virtuous life,” is one of the precepts outlined by Brigham Young University’s honor code.
Whether or not every member of the campus faithfully abides by it, one high-profile student was suspended for violating the code by having sexual relations with his girlfriend.
On Tuesday night, BYU issued a news release announcing that starting center Brandon Davies of the men’s basketball team, would miss the remainder of the season because of an undisclosed breach of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ honor code.
Mormon himself, Davies, a key player on the No. 3-ranked team, admitted to having pre-marital sex and is now facing, along with his team, the consequences.
Every student and staff that enters the school understands the rules, fully aware of the code of conduct, knowing what they can and cannot do to best represent themselves and the school. Davies was not an exception.
The honor code is simple and black and white. Follow it or be willing to face the consequences, top rebounder or not.
Davies reportedly went first to his coach, Dave Rose, and athletics director, Tom Holmoe, seeking their direction and counsel.
According to the local newspaper, both Rose and Holmoe were aware of the gravity of the violation, and first put their arms around the sophomore center, comforting him.
“Our number one thing then, now, and in the future is to look out for his best interests, to make sure that we can help him along in the process of getting him back to be with the team and to participate with the team and to get back on track to achieving all his dreams,” stated Holmoe to the Salt Lake Tribune.
After the initial conversation, Davies went to the honor code office and explained the situation.
“We have a lot of experience with honor code violations and issues in many different respects. And the one way that we are consistent in dealing with it is that we do it right,” continued Holmoe.
“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. It’s not about right or wrong. It’s about commitment,” Rose made clear.
“I have been in athletics my whole life. Athletes, especially good ones, and ones on top five teams in the country, are public figures, and if it is not an athlete, we all know that people in the public eye have more scrutiny,” Holmoe pointed out.
Though BYU has garnered much criticism and ridicule from the media and many public figures who don’t agree with the code, like the Knicks forward, Amar’e Stoudemire tweeting “let the kid live a little,” the school made the difficult decision to stand by their beliefs, in a society which too often bends the rules in the name of success. There was no grey area.
In an interview with The Sporting News, Ty Detmer, one of the biggest stars in BYU’s sports history who won a Heisman Trophy, stated, “I think it proves the school is willing to stand its ground … amidst one of its greatest seasons ever in basketball.”
Meanwhile, another former BYU football star, Reno Mahe, who was dropped from the school’s football program for violating the honor code, told the Deseret News, “I’ve always shared … that it was probably one of the best things that happened to me.”
“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.”
It takes a special coach and a special player to live up to the set of standards the school has established, remarked Geno Auriemma, the head coach of the University of Connecticut Huskies women’s basketball team, according to the Courant.
Jon Stewart, on The Daily Show, responded positively to Davies’ suspension by calling BYU’s decision principled behavior and sarcastically stating, “You know what they call a Division I athlete that limits his sex to either just his girlfriend, or, just to consent? A fictional character.”
“Kudos to BYU for standing by the rules at great possible financial cost and kudos to the athlete himself for accepting his punishment and still being at the game supporting all his teammates.”
In their first game without Davies, the Cougars fell to unranked New Mexico 82-64, perhaps the first sign of some trouble up ahead, with their next match against Wyoming Saturday.
Favored to win the NCAA tournament, the team suffered a devastating loss, with Jimmer Fredette, BYU’s top-ranked point guard, left to pick up his team and tread through the consequences.
Fredette and Charles Abuou, two of Davies’ teammates, told SLT after their defeat Wednesday night that they stand behind their former teammate and have no resentment toward him, saying they consider him a brother.
“Everyone makes mistakes in their life,” Abuou said. “We are reaching out and trying to help him get through this.”
According to Fredette, Davies had spoken to the entire team and apologized, feeling extremely remorseful and heartbroken.
“He told us everything,” Fredette revealed. “He told us he was sorry and that he let us down. We just held our heads high and told him it was OK, that it is life, and you make mistakes, and you just got to play through it.”
“His heart is in the right place,” the coach reiterated, telling reporters that he expects Davies to some day play again for the Cougars.
“We all love Brandon. He’s a great teammate and he’s been great for our team … we need to re-group and refine a few things and get out there Saturday,” Rose told Deseret News.
“This is life. You’re always expecting a fastball, and sometimes you get a curve. You’ve got to figure out how to hit it.”
While Davies sits on the sidelines, still as much a part of the team, the Cougars continue on, rebounding, shooting, and dribbling with what BYU hopes is integrity and honor.