So I know this isn't technically about college football, but the dismissal of Brandon Davies from BYU is one of the bigger college sports stories right now, and I figured many of you guys would have an opinion on it.
I logged onto the internet this morning to see that BYU was the talk of the sporting world, only this time, it wasn't for something The Great Jimmer did. The university dismissed starting Center Brandon Davies, perhaps BYU's second best player, for an undisclosed Honor Code violation (it was later reported that the violation was Davies having sex with his girlfriend). BYU promptly got drilled by a fairly mediocre New Mexico team, and saw their best basketball season in history jeopardized. Members of the sports and national media were aghast at this decision, with several comparing the university to Iran or Saudi Arabia with a straight face. Punishing a college kid for having sex?? Isn't that like punishing a college kid for eating ramen? That's what people...do!
I've been a Mormon my entire life, and I have to admit, I think the BYU honor code is actually really stupid, for a couple of reasons. First, it requires students to abide by rules that are not church doctrine in any way. There is nothing in the scriptures, or in a general conference talk, that says I cannot grow a beard. It was a rule leadership added out of fear that if people could look like hippies, they would become hippies. The namesake of the school, Brigham Young, had a beard. You know who else did? JESUS. Society might dictate that I shouldn't have facial hair (and they'd be correct in that judgment, as I look completely stupid if I don't shave), but that isn't the job of the university. Trying new things and looking stupid for a while is a critical part of the college experience.
I'm also uncomfortable with the overwhelming controlling aspect of the code. If we believe the mission of the institution is to help foster strong testimonies and values, they should be trusted to follow those convictions without constant babysitting. Members constantly talk about how their spiritual development was slowed when they had the chance to mooch off the testimony of their parents and friends...why prolong that? A man's spiritual standing should be nobody's business but his, the Lord's, and his spiritual adviser (in this case, his bishop). I don't believe anybody should have to give up their right to ecclesiastical privacy to a university bureaucrat, or worry about a roommate or landlord tattling on him. Friends can encourage spiritual behavior without resorting to mite pulling and all that.
But all of this is moot. Just because I think some of these rules are stupid doesn't mean that Davies shouldn't have been punished, even to the point of losing his spot on the basketball team.
BYU doesn't make a secret of what's expected of students there, and Davies can't cry ignorance. He's a Mormon, and he grew up in Provo. The guy had scholarship offers at Utah State, Gonzaga, Cal, and others, where he would be free to make his own choices. Not every Mormon kid has to go to BYU...I think Danny Ainge's kid went to Tennessee, and I'm pretty sure Nate Longshore of Cal was LDS. I shave when I feel like it, curse more than I should, and have publicly stated that I thought Prop 8 was a heartbreakingly bad idea... so I went to Ohio State. I turned out pretty okay. Davies is welcome to join me.
Whats rather remarkable about this is how BYU stuck to their guns, even when it was exceedingly unpopular or inconvenient to do so. This is almost unheard of in big time college athletics, where spin jobs to justify withholding punishments would make Frank Luntz proud. While the SEC has a reputation for brazen disregard to ethics, virtually everybody does it. Even my alma mater is guilty of it. When several major football players were found guilty of NCAA violations, they decided to let them play in an important bowl game, then make them sit out games against largely irrelevant competition. I might have grumbled a little bit, but because I am a stinkin' hypocrite, I supported it, and cheered when my Buckeyes beat Arkansas. Another reason why I would have struggled with that honor code business.
As a sports fan, I'm a little disappointed that this likely means a premature end to the Jimmer show, although at least now I won't be suckered into picking BYU to advance far in the tourney again (I mean, I never do NCAA bracket pools. Shit, that's like, my 4th code violation this blog post. Wait. 5th).
But as a Mormon, and and as somebody who still believes in the student part of student athletes, I'm glad BYU stuck to their guns. If we are serious about using sports as a vehicle to impart values, than this is an important lesson to learn. Missing that chance would be worse for BYU than being a punchline for a few days.
What do you guys think?
(also, per EDSBS regulations, Fuck Clemson)