Much of the focus on this year’s BYU men’s basketball team has shifted from its high ranking to the dismissal of Brandon Davies for an honor code violation.
When it comes to BYU, I’m not an unbiased observer. I have two degrees from BYU and I love the school and its mission. But when cases get high-profile media attention like this, I am always concerned about the impact on the individual and the school.
Many BYU students run afoul of the honor code. Unless the offense is a serious crime, these breaches are confidential and the public never learns about them. Unfortunately that isn’t true for star athletes like Davies.
If a redshirt freshman playing on the football scout team committed the same offense as Davies the punishment might be the same, but the story would probably never be picked up by any media.
It is unfortunate that youthful indiscretions can’t remain private. But when someone puts his talents on display in a highly public setting, his entire life often comes under intense scrutiny. Such is the price of fame and glory.
Some critics of the honor code have wrongly argued that such attention just because someone is a highly visible athlete is unfair. What would be unfair would be to cover up violations to protect a star athlete and that is what occurs at many other universities.
Other critics point out that there are students who commit infractions of the code and never suffer any consequences. Perhaps the vast majority of honor code breaches are never revealed. The same is true of the world outside the BYU campus. People commit crimes for which they never have to pay or even admit. But those who break the law do so knowing that if they get caught, punishment of some sort will follow.
Brandon Davies is not the first highly publicized BYU athlete to be kicked off a team for an honor code violation. He knew the code and the possible consequence. The fact that others might have committed similar offenses and never been caught is irrelevant.
It isn’t unfair, but it is unfortunate.
No one is perfect. Committing to abide by the honor code is not a promise to be perfect. But there is an implicit acknowledgement that infractions of the code are could carry consequences.
Last night the BYU men’s basketball team lost badly. They played sloppy and without confidence. It likely wasn’t a coincidence that such an uninspired performance came a day after the Davies situation became public. Whether they are strict adherents to the honor code or not, every other player on the team was undoubtedly aware that under the right circumstances they could be in the same position as their teammate.
It is kind of like cruising down the highway a few miles an hour over the speed limit, coming around a corner and seeing the flashing light of a police car with someone else pulled over on the side of the road. You take your foot off the gas and breathe a sigh of relief knowing that it might just as easily have been you.