One hot cup of Starbucks in the morning, a glass of red wine with dinner and a nightcap with your significant other that evening, and you’ve broken the BYU Honor Code three times in one day.
That’s a common day for most of us, but for students at BYU, it’s all prohibited.
But BYU deciding to dismiss Brandon Davies (starting forward and one of the best players in its basketball program) for having premarital sex with girlfriend Danica Mendivil should be considered a refreshing decision, albeit a painful one.
It’s refreshing, yet misunderstood, because most of us – present company included – couldn’t live without these so-called vices for 12 hours, let alone an entire tenure in college.
In fact, reading the BYU Honor Code makes me feel like the Charlie Sheen of sportswriting.
College sports of today are a spreading firestorm of recruiting violations, accusations and cheating. In cases where players, coaches, or programs get caught, the results aren’t always what are truly deserved – and that even includes when the NCAA gets involved.
Recent stories that come to mind range from USC football, to Ohio State football, to the Cam Newton saga at Auburn. Even the Oregon Ducks are being probed, according to recent reports.
But BYU stuck to its guns, and 19-year old starting forward Brandon Davies stuck to his, too – admitting to premarital sex with his girlfriend – one of the many no-no’s in the BYU Honor Code.
Even though this BYU news has likely unraveled the Cougars’ chance at a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament (plus resulted in the dismissal of a young talented player), this should be considered the best sports story since MLB umpire Jim Joyce and starting pitcher Armando Galarraga came together after a near-perfect game was lost due to a blown call.
And that’s because the true spirit of sports has prevailed again.
In sports today, so many college football coaches dodge disciplinary actions on players by suspending a troublemaker to sit one game against a cupcake team in early September. Fans frequently toss hate in the direction of teams that take a stand and make decisions that can hurt a team’s chances at long-term success. Players who deserve to be disciplined often avoid trouble by stretching the truth or flat-out lying.
Brandon Davies owned up to his mistake and accepted his punishment.
BYU stayed the course and made no exceptions for its honor code, even though it was obvious that the action on Davies would be detrimental to the basketball program and its chances for a national championship – and that thought process became closer to reality after the Cougars’ first game without Davies, an 82-64 blowout loss at home to unranked New Mexico.
Many BYU students and fans have also embraced the decision, and respected the school for holding true to its code.
How many sports bystanders can honestly admit that they were shocked by the fan reaction, and would also support the decision?
Perhaps at the time, BYU was likely suffering from a severe case of “Jimmer Fever”, which brings up a whole new point: Would BYU react the same way if Jimmer Fredette broke part of the school’s honor code?
The answer seems clear, and that’s yes – and it’s simply because there was no wavering at all once the decision was released. Clean, cut and dry – Davies was let go.
BYU knows how import Davies was to the team. It’s the fans and critics that didn’t, because the clear majority is so enthralled by Jimmer, from his name to his game. But Davies was part of the one-two punch that BYU had, perhaps in a watered-down mold of another past duo playing in Utah, Karl Malone and John Stockton. One led the offense, while the other was a beast in the paint.
But it’s now apparent that the Cougars’ success has been more of a team effort than critics and fans realized. Davies was BYU’s leading rebounder, and also a guy that averaged 11.1 points per game. Davies also scored in double figures during 20 games this season, and had a double-double in three games, including 15 boards during one of his last games (2/23 vs. Colorado St.).
It’ll be interesting to see how Fredette, BYU and the Cougars can face adversity going forward, and heading into March Madness.
One thing’s for certain, while a hefty number of college kids channel their inner-Sheen, showering campuses with underage drinking, sex and late nights of debauchery, BYU continues to stay the course.
And while that may feel strange to most of us, it’s damn refreshing, like a hot cup of coffee or an ice-cold glass of beer – clearly a decision the sports world should honor and embrace.