The dismissal of a Brigham Young University basketball player for violating the school’s honor code has made national news now, so you probably have heard about it and possibly debated with friends about it.
To catch you up, Brandon Davies, the team’s third-leading scorer and top rebounder, was booted from the team after acknowledging that he had had premarital sex with his girl friend.
That is a violation of the school’s code that requires students to be honest and live a chaste and virtuous life, among other things.
At the time of his dismissal, BYU was ranked third in the country, which would put the Cougars in the title contender category when it comes to the NCAA Tournament that begins in a couple of weeks. They immediately went out and lost their first game without Davies by 18 points at New Mexico.
BYU has now been put in a position of defending the code with former athletes like Danny Ainge and Ty Detmer coming out with statements in support of it.
My question here: Why is it even necessary?
The code is there. BYU lives by it and doesn’t try to hide it from athletes or any students. It is a private university with deep religious roots. Everybody knows that going in. Where’s the problem? We’re not setting up some sort of national standard here.
Anyone who ridicules the decision to enforce the code is showing their own lack of moral fiber. At a time when so many are too willing to bend the rules to fit their situation, it is refreshing, to say the least, to see an institution stand by what it believes.
Arguing that the rules are antiquated and unrealistic in today’s life is no valid argument. That doesn’t matter. The code is there, and that is what the Mormons stand by. Students agree to obey and sign a pledge to that effect. If they think it’s not realistic and don’t want to follow it, then they need to go to school somewhere else.
There is one legitimate issue here, and it is whether the enforcement of the code was too strict for the violation.
Gordon Monson, a columnist for the Salt Lake City Tribune, notes that BYU’s behavioral code is stricter than the one even the Church of Christ of Latter-day Saints follows. He puts forth the view that when someone strays from the path, the emphasis should be on rehabilitating that person, not strictly punishing the sinner.
In other words, say a couple of rosaries and everything would be fine.
But adjudicating the penalty is a decision left up to the university. The administration believed that dismissal from the basketball team -- not, as far as I have seen, from the university -- was an appropriate punishment for Davies.
So live with it, folks.
(I can’t stay all-serious here in this blog so let me add this because it’s just kind of appropriate to the situation. I collect shot glasses as I travel and one of my favorites was one I picked up in Salt Lake City. Written on the side of it is this: “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you may be in Utah.”)