I’m no expert on Mormon faith. I know Brigham Young University has an honor code that is taken seriously by everyone at the school. If that wasn’t obvious before Tuesday, it should be now because it’s a violation of that code that got sophomore forward Brandon Davies suspended for the rest of the season just as talk about a potential Cougars run to the Final Four was heating up.
It’s a terrible story because BYU is a team the country was getting behind, mainly because of senior guard Jimmer Fredette, whose name and amazing talent are huge fan magnets.
I can’t imagine a college basketball fan in the country who wasn’t looking forward to watching the Cougars, who lost to Kansas State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season, make a deeper run. If it happens, it’ll be without Davies, who was averaging 11.1 points and a team-high 6.2 rebounds.
I’ll leave the experts to figure out the basketball implications of Davies’ suspension. Oh, wait, I am a basketball expert (or so the fable goes).
My interest is more in the human fallout from this.
Obviously, Davies did something significant to violate BYU’s honor code. He didn’t have a sip of tea or coffee, for instance.
Suspensions at BYU aren’t a black and white issue, always. There are instances of probation, as I understand. It’s apparent Davies left no wiggle room, that his violation was worthy of the strongest arm of this code.
So, how bad do you feel for the kid without knowing specifically what he did?
It’s hard to say. Information about the part of the code he violated is scant, if not non-existent. And BYU officials will do their best to keep it that way.
If Davies flaunted the honor code, then it’s hard to conjure much sympathy. But if he got caught up in a bad situation and used poor judgment, then there’s reason to empathize with his plight.
I just know he’s a 20-year-old kid and I don’t care what kind of honor code is in place, 20-year-old kids make mistakes. It’s true that BYU students – all of them – have to adhere to the same code and sign a document acknowledging their awareness every year.
I appreciate the honor code. I even admire it. In a day and age when so many have ceased demanding excellence from young people, it’s nice to know BYU has higher standards. Perhaps more universities should, especially more athletic departments.
But this is something Davies will carry with him throughout the rest of his life. When he’s 50, people will ask him about that time he was suspended when it looked like the Cougars might have their best team ever and their most legitimate shot at a Final Four. Such questions will persist beyond then, even.
The only thing that could eliminate the need to ask the question is a deep BYU run in the tournament. And without Davies, the best athlete on the Cougars’ squad and a guy whose interior passing skills are overlooked, the chances for that have diminished.
I feel worst for Davies’ teammates, and especially for Fredette. Imagine what his thoughts must be. I’m sure he’s going to publicly support Davies as a friend and teammate and say all the right things in front of the media and the public. Inside, though, Fredette has to be incensed. Doesn’t he?
I know those who attend BYU, even the athletes, go there for a higher calling than winning games. But winning isn’t meaningless at BYU, for sure. The Cougars have always had a very good football program, even winning a national championship. Sports are as important at BYU as they are anyplace in the country.
They’re just not the most important thing. The university’s image comes first, thus the very existence of the honor code. There will be some who make light of it, many who site it’s proclamation that students avoid drinking tea as an example of its silliness.
But if a student is caught drinking tea, I’m sure he or she gets a talking to, not a suspension. Davies didn’t drink tea. Some will say he’s being pushed for not drinking the BYU Kool-Aid.
Perhaps so, but everyone who attends the university knows a big, cold pitcher of the stuff is awaiting.