If Jimmer Fredette had sex with his girlfriend on campus, I doubt he would have been dismissed from the BYU basketball team in the same fashion as big man Brandon Davies was this week.
Not with a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament on the line and a possible trip to the Final Four at stake.
Not when Fredette is the school's most recognized and marketable athlete.
Not at the expense of ruining what has been a fairy tale story.
Before anyone accuses me of throwing around the race card, I'm not; this is not about race. This is about value.
Fredette, for all intents and purposes, is the most valuable commodity in Provo right now. Sure, Davies has been an important performer for the Cougars during their run toward the apex of the college basketball poll.
But Davies does not carry the same cachet and is not BYU's best player like Fredette is.
The attention his stellar play has brought to the sleepy mid-major basketball program is invaluable. It is free PR, a dream for any university.
Jimmer is the Cam Newton of BYU basketball, the golden child.
Newton spent much of the second half of the 2010 football season embroiled in a controversy regarding allegations that his father, Cecil Newton, had sought substantial sums of money (in violation of NCAA rules) for his son to play for a major college program.
In early December, the NCAA announced that Cam had been declared ineligible by Auburn after having found evidence that Cecil did in fact solicit Mississippi State for money in exchange for his son's services.
Auburn immediately filed to have him reinstated.
The NCAA quickly reinstated Newton, declaring him eligible prior to the end of the regular season, stating there was not sufficient evidence that the quarterback or anyone from Auburn had any knowledge of Cecil's actions.
Newton won the Heisman Trophy, and Auburn went on to win the BCS national championship.
Did anyone really think Cam Newton was going to be ruled ineligible by the NCAA with the powers that be—ESPN, CBS and the SEC—involved?
We all thought five Ohio State football players, including starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor, would be suspended for the Sugar Bowl for accepting improper benefits.
Wrong again. They were suspended—for the first five games of next season, when the Buckeyes complete a first-half non-conference schedule filled with also-rans.
Not the Sugar Bowl.
Kinda hard for ESPN to sell the Big Ten-SEC matchup to the public with one of the marquee players ruled out for selling gold pants.
We can all commend BYU for enforcing university rules, but what if its biggest draw both locally and nationally was found to have broken the sacred code?
Would the decision have been made so quickly and seemingly so easily without much second thought?
Let's take former Cougar quarterback Jim McMahon as an example.
He was the classic rebel with an attitude who just so happened be a stud college football player, and tales of McMahon disdaining Mormonism have been well documented.
He was at odds with all the rules and regulations at the school that's owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In a Brad Rock Deseret News article chronicling the punky QB's days in Provo during the 1980s, Rock wrote:
"It was also McMahon who flaunted the honor code, gestured at opposing crowds and bickered with the assistant coaches. Some even credit him with being the first player to taunt opposing fans by pointing at the scoreboard.
"'Yeah, I had a great time on Saturdays,' said McMahon of his days in Provo. 'Rest of the week was a little rough, but Saturdays were always fun.'
"Said former coach LaVell Edwards: 'He spent more time in my office than I did.'"
If that is the case, how did McMahon survive five years without being kicked out of not only BYU, but the state of Utah?
Setting 32 NCAA passing records, being named a two-time All-American and leading the program to multiple Holiday Bowl wins might have something to do with it, considering there are stories of McMahon binge drinking and partying off-campus.
The examples provided go to show that an essential athlete will have his transgressions overlooked for the greater good of bowl appearances and championships.
It has historically been the case throughout the history of major collegiate athletics. Star athletes have been known to get a pass or two—or 100—due to the value they bring to the team and school.
Too bad Davies is not averaging 27.5 points per game, is not the lead story on SportsCenter and is not in the discussion for Naismith honors, because he still might be on the squad.
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