Is BYU saving face by allowing Brandon Davies to return to school?

Neal J Leitereg's picture

Despite voluntarily withdrawing from school following his dismissal from the BYU men's basketball program for violating the university's honor code, sophomore forward Brandon Davies is working towards rejoining the Cougars next season.

Davies, a 6-foot-9, 235-pound forward and the team's best low-post threat, had averaged 11.1 ppg and 6.2 rpg for the Cougars in 2010-11 before he was dismissed from the team for a violation of the school's honor code. In Davies case, the violation involved engaging in premarital intercourse.

Following his dismissal and the completion of winter semester finals, Davies opted to voluntarily withdraw from the university. Despite his withdrawal, Davies indicated that he is working with the dean of students on a plan that will have him back in school and on the BYU men's basketball team in time for the start of the fall semester.

"There's a pretty long list of people that I'd like to thank who are helping me through this difficult time," Davies said in a statement released by Brigham Young University. "It's been very hard emotionally but thanks to the love and support of many, I'll be able to get through it. There's a plan in place, and I intend to follow through and return to BYU in the fall. I'm looking forward to coming back to school to continue my education and getting back on the court."

At the time of the dismissal, the red-hot Cougars had won 27 of 29 games and were coming off of a season sweep of conference rival San Diego State University. Though Davies himself admitted the violation and the university upholds a strict honor code - a code that requires among other things abstinence from alcoholic beverages, fornication, tobacco, tea, coffee and substance abuse, and regular attendance at church – for all enrolled students, BYU officials were criticized for their handling of incident, specifically minority student-athletes such as Davies, and would not reveal how they became aware of the violation in the first place.

In a 2011 report published on Deadspin by Luke O'Brien and Darron Smith, the co-authors researched the university's honor code violations by student-athletes and found a glaring discrepancy between the amount of punishment levied on minorities and African-American men compared to the rest of the student body:

"Since 1993, according to our research, at least 70 BYU athletes have been suspended, dismissed, put on probation, or forced to withdraw from their respective teams or the school after running afoul of the honor code. Fifty-four of them, or nearly 80 percent, are minorities. Forty-one, or almost 60 percent, are black men. These are conservative numbers, compiled from media reports and interviews."

"Clearly, though, something is amiss at BYU, where around 23 percent of the athletes are minorities, according to the university. Only .6 percent of the student body is black (176 out of the 32,947 students enrolled in 2010). Yet a majority of the honor code violations involve black athletes."

While it appears that Davies and the university are working towards a resolution to his situation, not all African-American student-athletes that have violated the honor code are afforded such an opportunity.

A case in point involves former Cougars football player James Allen, who was suspended from the school for an honor code violation just one semester shy of graduating. Unlike Davies, Allen's attempts to return to school to complete his degree or transfer to another school were rebuffed by officials.

“I was writing them letters and sending emails to see if I could finish up my degree," Allen said in the Deadspin report. "They set up a meeting with me. I told the dean that that's one of the reasons I've worked since I was 14 — to get my bachelor's. I told them I'd never been in trouble with BYU. That was the first time. I was a 21-year-old kid in college. I said I was deeply sorry but please just let me finish my semester and get my degree. They said no. I feel like they're hypocrites. I told them, 'God will forgive me for everything, for my sin, but you guys can't forgive me?”

Brigham Young University has been steadfast when discussing the issue of race and the honor code, saying simply that the school will continue to stand by its “principles.” However, the treatment of minority student-athletes can hardly be ignored.

By extending an olive branch to Davies, BYU stands to improve its perceived image and handling of the situation not only in the eyes of the general public, but also in the eyes of potential student-athletes that might otherwise balk at considering the possibility of attending the university.

It appears that the Brandon Davies story may have a positive outcome for Davies himself; however, it remains to be seen whether the university’s handling of his situation is anything more than a one-time posturing gesture aimed at showing the university in a better light with respect to minority players.

The Truth About Race, Religion, And The Honor Code At BYU [Deadspin]

Image credit: Wikipedia commons


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Bad piece of reporting. You are clearly mis-informed. This is exactly like the Reno Mahe or Mekeli Wesley situation, where minority student-athletes were expelled and then were allowed back to BYU. (Google "Reno Mahe" or "Mekeli Wesley" to educate yourself.)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Neil, Perhaps poor word selection would have been more accurate. The article says "minority" in a few spots. Both Mahe and Wesley are minorities.

Submitted by Chet (not verified) on
I'm no expert, but I've heard second hand that if a student goes to their honor code board hearing and says that they want to work to return, that they will be given a plan to work toward to return to BYU. On the other hand, if a student goes to their honor code board hearing and is resentful and generally has a bad attitude, they will not be given a second chance.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
The last two words of your article says "Minority Players." Both Reno and Mekeli are minorities.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
You clearly know very little about the Honor Code situation at BYU. I suggest you read Vai Sikahema's article in the Deseret News about his first-hand experience.

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