It is ironic in a way, and yes I am unabashed fan of irony, that the NFL combine news was overshadowed by a story from BYU, all on the same day CBS and Sports Illustrated released a report on college athletes and criminal records. You see, most of the NFL combine news centers around Cam Newton – the former Auburn quarterback with the rather colorful history. The CBS/SI report is self-explanatory. And then there is the BYU basketball player, Brandon Davies, a starter and major factor in the teams amazing success this season. He was suspended by the team for a violation of the university honor code. Dare I say his actions were hardly the stuff anyone would be suspended for on any other campus.
Brigham Young University is a unique institution, tied directly the The Church of Jesus Christ of Ladder Day Saints and to the church’s values. However, what is interesting is that every university purports to hold the ideal of the “student athlete” sacred, that winning is not above the values and standards of the university. Colleges and universities all proclaim that athletics is tertiary, that academics and producing graduates who are good, productive citizens and future leaders are the real mission.
BYU has enjoyed a great basketball season thus far, and the loss of Brandon Davies clearly is a huge blow to the team and their chances for post season success. We all get it – there is a ton of money tied up in college athletics – it is big business. Billions. Yet BYU took action, an action that will certainly have financial repercussions. And all because the individual in question told them of his actions that caused the violation – in effect a confession. No one would have known – yet he and the university held to their word.
It is not about the unique and specific Brigham Young University Honor Code and if one agrees or disagrees. It is about the fact that there is a code, that those who willingly attend the university also commit to their code. It is about a university that held to that code – regardless of cost. We are surrounded by corporate “codes of conduct”, of “core values”, of “oaths of office” and a host of laws and standards of behavior. However, we rarely if ever see anyone held to account. Think about it – who from business, sports, or even political office are held to account – ever?
In the end, the question really becomes how committed are you to “walking the walk”? BYU demonstrated they are committed. It was one impressive statement.