BYU and Brandon Davies: Upholding Religious Standards or Racial Profiling?

Michael CampanellaContributor IMarch 9, 2011

LAS VEGAS - MARCH 12:  Brandon Davies # 0 of the Brigham Young University Cougars is dejected after the team's 70-66 loss to the UNLV Rebels in a semifinal game of the Conoco Mountain West Conference Basketball tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center March 12, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

So of course everyone in the sports world around the nation is fully entrenched in the Brandon Davies story at BYU. For those totally not up to speed he was an outstanding and pivotal player on the Cougar basketball team that was dismissed for violating the school Honor Code by having sex with his girlfriend.

Yes every school/university around the world has a list of codes, ethics, conduct regulations that all students must follow. Some schools are a more stringent that others.  One would have to put the likes of the Stanfords and Harvards up near the top of that list as well. 

But it seems that some times these “codes” and those that enforce them can be very vague and even “Salem witch trial-ish” and not governed by school authorities.  The higher scholastic schools use them mainly to discourage academic dishonesty. Note this from The Harvard Crimson on-line magazine:

“Essentially, an honor code is a document signed by students who promise to uphold certain standards of conduct. The policy is typically accompanied by an assumption of integrity on the part of students—consequently, schools that institute honor codes will often allow or even encourage unproctored exams, for example.

"But beyond these basic elements, the differences between one honor code and the next can be significant.”

Now this is where things become unique for BYU as a Mormon school and their list of regulations on the Honor Code Statement, this list includes things such as:

Be honest
Live a chaste and virtuous life
Obey the law and all campus policies
Use clean language
Respect others
Abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee, and substance abuse
Participate regularly in church services
Observe the Dress and Grooming Standards
Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code

One can obviously see that this list of rules is way more strict than any you would find at any school and include violations of premarital sex, smoking and the encouragement of the “telling on” or ratting out of others.

I’ve seen many social media posts and comments degrading these rules—including alumni—as ancient, archaic, out of touch with the times, essentially saying “kids will be kids and college is made for these types of activities.” 

Well you know what? You are wrong. This list of codes leads to a very beneficial and healthy lifestyle. But semantics aside, the school has the right to establish any codes they wish and if any student does not wish to follow them, then they do not have to go to the school to begin with.

No one put a gun to the student’s head and forced them to sign up. You make an obligation to follow them and know the consequences if you don’t.

My issue of concern is this: How does the committee enforce these rules and the violations thereof—and is there a discrepancy upon those whom they choose to punish and to what degree of punishment the violator gets?

In an interview with Steve Coffield and Dave Cokin of local radio affiliate ESPN 1100, Hans Olsen—a former standout BYU football player and alum who works for 1280 AM sports talk radio in Salt Lake City, UT—stated he was subject to severe false allegations of sexual and physical assault of a female that really cost him and destroyed him mentally and emotionally. 

None of the allegations had any basis but those that proposed them suffered zero consequences. He was fortunate; he was white.

Now where minorities are involved is this: It seems to be that throughout the years we have only heard of these groups being suspended and cast out due to their violations. 

Roddie Jenkins, Reno Ma’he, Harvey Unga, Michael Lloyd and now Brandon Davies to name the top students involved. With less than five percent of the school student body being minorities, why is the majority of kids being suspended not white?!

You’re telling me that zero white student athletes violate these codes as well? Or do they just not get suspended and only put on probation? 

Does the name Jim McMahon ring a bell?! From visual and actual accounts he violated every code on a daily basis.

He would get drunk with the other team the night before and tell them how he was going to destroy them the next day! He would light up stogies on campus!

Are you telling me that the Honor Committee has become more strict now than back then? Or is it because Jim was taking the team to a national title?

Now by no means am I accusing BYU of unethical racial discrimination but the questions do have to be raised.

As far as the punishment of the violation is concerned, the rules are the rules. Whether you believe in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or you are an atheist, there are consequences for your violation of rules.

If you break the law of speeding you get a ticket. Did you kill anyone? No, but you broke the local rules. Same with those that break the BYU Honor Code—if you break the rules you suffer the punishment. 

Davies didn’t get kicked out of school and head coach Dave Rose feels that he can be a part of the team again. So let’s not act like it’s an end-all. Brandon Davies was not put to death—nor even kicked out.

Yes, people can be punished, truly repent, and be reinstated to the position or status in life they once had. Quit acting like his entire life has been destroyed. Their house...their rules.

And let’s not forget that every year student-athletes are kicked off their respective teams due to “school or team violations.” 

Korie Lucious from Michigan State—for ”unspecified reasons”—comes to mind while many football players are suspended from teams before college bowl games.

Funny I didn’t hear a huge national uproar against them.