Have to respect BYU’s decision
The jokes began to fly just minutes after the news broke that Brandon Davies was dismissed from the BYU basketball team for having premarital sex with his girlfriend.
"Brandon Davies is the only BYU student scoring tonight," someone tweeted as the Cougars were getting hammered by New Mexico in Provo.
"How the heck did Jim McMahon make it through a day in Provo?" asked another.
"Brandon Davies misread the BYU honor code; he thought ‘score at will’ didn’t just mean on the basketball court," someone chimed in.
They’re likely not alone.
Most people can’t relate to the school’s lengthy honor code — which doesn’t allow for the consumption of coffee or alcohol, forbids swearing and also prohibits premarital sex.
"If you want to do those things, then you can go to any other university in the country and do them," said BYU legend Danny Ainge, who led the Cougars to the Elite Eight in 1981 while earning National Player of the Year honors.
Just not at BYU.
The school essentially tossed away its opportunity to go to the Final Four for the first time in school history with the dismissal of Davis, its starting center, leading rebounder and a key ingredient to BYU advancing deep into the NCAA tournament.
Sure, Jimmer Fredette is the elite offensive player in the country, but he still needs help.
All you had to do was watch New Mexico’s dismantling of the Cougars on Wednesday night to see Davies’ presence is critical — especially on the defensive end.
But in an era in which big-time college athletics has run amok, BYU has maintained its core values and refused to sell out.
"I think it’s a great code of conduct," said Ainge, whose children have also attended BYU. "It teaches discipline, teaches kids to not live in a world of instant gratification. It’s a different culture — and I love that culture."
Davies was familiar with that culture even before heading to BYU.
He was adopted, grew up his entire life in Provo and even attended Provo High. Utah and Utah State were both involved in his recruitment, but he opted to remain in Provo and become a Cougar.
Before doing so, Davies (like every BYU student) had to meet with a Bishop in the Mormon Church and then a Stake President, during which the honor code is made abundantly clear, explained Ainge.
"You go through two interviews and sign a contract saying you’ll uphold the honor code," said Ainge, who is a Bishop in the Mormon Church and leads a congregation of about 400.
The honor code is read in detail and then signed again each year.
Davies was an LDS (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) kid. He knew exactly what he was signing up for when he opted to go to BYU.
His teammates, including Fredette, seemed to understand.
“He told us everything. 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," Fredette said after Wednesday’s loss.
But this was a mistake that could wind up costing BYU and the Mountain West in the wallet, as well.
George Mason’s sports management department did a study after its magical and improbable Final Four run back in 2006 and estimated the university received more than $650 million of free publicity — and that doesn’t include the millions of actual dollars the school and the league earned by virtue of the Patriots getting to the Final Four.
But BYU didn’t sweep the Davies situation under the carpet, didn’t try to hide anything.
It went through the process with Davies and then dismissed him from the program. His future in school and with the team is still up in the air.
It’s a tough pill for the rest of us to swallow, a kid getting tossed from a team for doing something most college kids celebrate.
"People will ridicule it because they don’t understand it," Ainge said.
But they are the rules.
And it’s nice to see someone in college sports still actually enforces them.