Brigham Young starting sophomore forward Brandon Davies was suspended by his school for the remainder of the 2010-11 college basketball season.
While academic shortcomings and intra-squad fights are not uncommon reasons for temporary suspensions during the college basketball season, the reason for Davies’ suspension is unique to BYU and perhaps alien to the rest of the collegiate athletics landscape.
Davies was suspended for having consensual sex with his girlfriend, Danica Mendivil, who is a freshman volleyball player at Arizona State University.
Although it may seem appalling to the rest of the country, this suspension is not completely out of character. Before attending BYU, each student is required to sign an honor code, which prohibits, among other things, sex outside of marriage.
To me, the punishment was too harsh and did not fit the “crime.” Davies should have been suspended, but not for the remainder of the season. A suspension throughout the remainder of the regular season and during the Mountain West Conference tournament would have been more reasonable.
BYU, located in Provo, Utah, is owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the church of the Mormon religion. It is for that reason that the mandatory student honor code mirrors many Mormon values.
The BYU honor code requires participating regularly in church services, observing dress and grooming standards, using clean language, abstaining from alcohol, tobacco, tea, caffeine and prohibits substance abuse.
The first two items of the honor code are the most important to the university: honesty and living a chaste and virtuous life.
Davies was suspended, as he should have been, for violating the honor code.
But he should have been suspended for a few games, perhaps until the NCAA tournament began, because he was honest with BYU authorities when they inquired about his private affairs.
Shouldn’t Davies have been granted some leniency for breaking only one aspect of the honor code, when he easily could have lied and broken a second? I think so.
Davies was not found to have been having one-night stands or selling drugs or speaking out against the Mormon religion. Perhaps it’s just my judgment, but isn’t lying to your church about sex with your girlfriend far worse than the actual act itself?
I think this is a case where BYU’s principles were too harshly enforced upon a young man who has publicly admitted his guilt for what occurred and even apologized to his teammates for letting them down.
BYU officials should have practiced the most important quality of any religion or faith—forgiveness.
The season-long suspension of Davies will undoubtedly affect the Cougars’ NCAA tournament seeding. He was the team’s leading rebounder—6.2 per game—and was averaging 11.1 points per game.
BYU was No. 3 in the nation when Davies was suspended. They lost by 18 at home the following night versus an unranked New Mexico team.
That loss dropped BYU to No. 8 this week.
Davies and BYU have reminded us religious diversity and lifestyle are still very real in this country, and that diversity has its place at BYU, which still places principle above basketball prominence.
I respect that position, especially since it’s not all that far off from Butler’s. However, BYU should have given more weight to the positive aspects of the situation—Davies’ honesty—and handed down a lighter suspension.