Did BYU get it right?

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Do the Cougars still have a shot at a Final Four berth?

My friend Kordel emailed me and asked my thoughts on the subject of Brian Davies being dismissed from the BYU Cougar men’s basketball team last week for violating the schools honor code. I’ve avoided the subject for a week now because I’ve had trouble processing the angles on this story even though its pretty cut-and-dry. That and the fact that I know that there will be those who will not agree with my stance. Regardless, that is why we write. If I shy away from my point of view than I am a coward unworthy of consideration. So here are my thoughts.

If you haven’t heard the specifics on the topic (not that it hasn’t been blasted all over local, national and international media outlets or anything), Davies was dismissed for having premarital sex with his girlfriend. Strange? At any other university where there are less stringent rules (and definitely not any rules that discuss your sexual activities), the honor code is a throw-back to the days of Moses making BYU’s honor code an anomaly in the world’s view.

However, at BYU, an institution long known for its very rigorous standards, this is hardly a deviation from what has been a long standing prerequisite for attending the school. They have changed minor policies over the years for things like dress standards and hair but on the issue of morality the policy remains the same and the Davies controversy will not change it.

Any subject involving moral ethics is bound to bring media attention especially if it involves a celebrity or some other act of destructive moral character like a serial rapist or a person who has taken advantage of a child while in a position of authority. Who can forget the national outcry when teachers like Debra LaFave and perhaps the most famous case of it’s kind, Mary Kay Letourneau had relations with a student? And there’s a male celebrity who starred in a certain sitcom who is getting a lot of world wide attention for his antics and sexual escapades.

But this story really got a lot of buzz (and is still getting attention) because it is a nationally ranked basketball team whose chances at winning a national championship have been decreased because of the Davies fiasco. Heated remarks from some unusual sources have sprung up since the news broke causing an even bigger fuss over the matter.

One of the most vilifying statements against BYU and it’s decision to dismiss Davies from the team came from a very unlikely source, New York Knicks center Amare Stoudamire who Tweeted:

“Don’t ever go to BYU, they kick a Young Educated (Black) Brother OUT OF SCHOOL . . . Come on BYU don’t kick the kid out of school. Let’s be honest he is in college. Let’s the kid live a little,”

Huh? I love Amare’s chances at reviving Knicks basketball, but I’m never going to defer to him for advice on ethics. I prefer to get guidance from a therapist, a counselor or my local clergy.

Yes, Davies deserves a second chance and No, the university has not kicked him out of school nor have they declined to give every means of assistance necessary to Davies in meeting his academic and life goals.

The reaction has gone back and forth on both sides of the issue. Some applaud the universities decision while others think that the punishment was too severe. Well what makes Davies different from Mekeli Wesley, Reno Mahe and others who suffered the same fate for making the same or similar decisions that were against the schools honor code? Is the university and the LDS Church which owns, administers and sponsors the school to make changes to its policies simply because of the possibility that keeping Davies on the roster would mean more wins for the team?

If anything, keeping Davies on the team would have meant a huge loss. A loss to fundamental beliefs and the ethos that governs the school. As members of the LDS church we believe that these principles and those that are taught each day in our homes and in our houses of worship, are divinely inspired. The policy was meant to assist its students in living wholesome, God-centered lives.

So should the school and the church revamp the policy and temporarily suspend Davies’ sentence until the NCAA tournament is over and to save face for the school and for Davies? Should we turn a blind eye if a student is caught cheating on a science project that may potentially harness the power to cure diabetes? No! Davies will still score points and grab rebounds whether it’s on BYU’s team or any other college basketball team. A science genius will still have the knowledge to potentially cure diabetes whether he is a student of that institution or not.

Caving in to popular demand and peer pressure sends a message that we often hear in the world today, particularly in the world of sports: It’s all about the win/money/power/prestige. Throw ethics out the door for the sake of those things? Not a world I want to live in.

What is happening to Brandon Davies could happen to anyone. As it has been pointed out on several occasions, I believe that condemning the transgression, not the transgressor has been the stance taken by the school and the church in this and all similar cases. If I believed that BYU was acting out of malice I would be the first to advise students to abandon ship. But they are following the rules that govern the institution and any school or organization that follows their rules should be commended.

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