BYU Kicks Brandon Davis off Team for Having Sex: Has Honor Code Gone Too Far?

Dmitriy Ioselevich@dioselevSenior Analyst IIIMarch 3, 2011

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 05:  Brandon Davies #0 of the Brigham Young University Cougars shoots against Derrick Jasper #5 of the UNLV Rebels during their game at the Thomas & Mack Center January 5, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. BYU won 89-77.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Brandon Davies was kicked BYU's basketball team for violating the honor code. His crime? Having sex with his girlfriend.

According to BYU's honor code, all students are forbidden from having premarital sex. They must also abstain from other traditional college activities like drinking alcohol, drinking coffee (no, really) and smoking in an attempt to "live a chaste and virtuous life."

First off, BYU is a private university, so it reserves the right to make the rules and punish students accordingly for breaking them. If BYU wants to align its honor code with the Mormon faith, then it is more than welcome to do so.

But did Davis really deserve to get kicked off the team?

The 6'9", 235-pound forward was a key member of one of the top ranked teams in the country. The sophomore averaged 11.1 ppg on 52.5 percent shooting and was a favorite target of National Player of the Year candidate, Jimmer Fredette. He also led the Cougars in rebounding with a robust 6.2 rpg.

Davies had to sign a contract and familiarize himself with the school's honor code, but I'm also sure that Davies is not the first person to violate that policy, and he won't be the last.

I respect BYU's administrators for standing by their principles and not putting athletics first, like many schools across the country do. But it's not like they were putting school first either.

What Davies was doing with his girlfriend has little to no effect on his performance in the classroom or his performance on the court. Officials at BYU may argue otherwise, but Davies is human just like everyone else and is prone to urges. Rather than dictate his life decisions (that's what jail is for), why not let him make his own decisions and learn from his mistakes?

At worst, Davies deserved to be suspended for a game or two just to remind everyone that BYU is serious about its honor code. That would have sent out the appropriate message without disrupting the basketball season or attracting negative media attention.

Instead, what BYU now likely faces is a perfect storm of accusations and excuses.

The fallout from this story will be enormous. Educators, politicians and journalists will question whether any institution, public or private, should have the power to control a student's life. They will also question whether educational institutions should be linked to a religion or any particular set of beliefs.

Athletes, meanwhile, will read this story and cross BYU (which has a fantastic athletics program, by the way) off their list. This is not only bad for the basketball and football teams, it's bad for the university and community as a whole.

It's a shame because BYU is a great school and Utah is a beautiful place to spend your undergraduate years. But none of that will matter as long as the administration continues to put personal beliefs ahead of the students.