Hoops and Abstract Principles

Brigham Young University dismissed one of its best post players, Brandon Davies, from the basketball team for violations of the university’s honor code. Reportedly, this was for sex, which is one of many enjoyable things forbidden by the school’s rules, which stem from the principles of the LDS church.

This really kind of sucks, as it further sets up the inevitable Jimmer Fredette backlash, and I really like Fredette, who is a local legend as well as a great player. In their first game without Davies, BYU lost to New Mexico, a team with a fairly mediocre record, and this bodes ill for them in their conference tournament and the NCAA tournament in a couple of weeks. March-only fans of the game will tune in, see BYU lose, and say “Oh, they were never all that good to begin with…,” and possibly “Fredette wasn’t all that good to begin with,” which is a shame because it’s completely wrong.

On another level, though, you kind of have to admire BYU for having principles. College sports is a world where “indefinite suspension” tends to mean “until the next televised game/ big rivalry game/ two-game losing streak.” As noted on a hoops-related email list, in the PAC-10 alone you have multiple players who have been “indefinitely suspended” for things like starting fistfights in practice, but have sat out no more than one or two games. And there’s one player who is widely known to be the subject of a rape investigation, who hasn’t missed any significant time because there haven’t been any criminal charges filed.

So, for BYU to dump one of their best players, just as the tournament season arrives, for a presumably consensual violation of the school’s honor code is surprising and vaguely admirable. I don’t share their particular principles, and in fact find them a little silly, but the fact that they have principles, and value them more highly than the best season the school has ever had or is likely to have is a nice change of pace.

It still kind of sucks from a basketball standpoint, though.

Comments

  1. #1 Sili
    March 3, 2011

    Could be worse. He could have grown a beard!

  2. #2 Sherri
    March 3, 2011

    The number of players in major college sports who get charged with crimes and serve minimal suspensions from their teams is ridiculous. Football is worse than basketball; in some major college football programs, a DUI barely seems to register if the player and the upcoming game are important enough.

    SI has a story on college football and crime; it opens with the story of a Pitt football player who threw someone through a glass door and continued punching him in the face after he was down and bleeding. The player was suspended for the season, but reinstated after pleading to a lesser charge. Since this was all before the season, he never missed a game.

  3. #3 Septuagint
    March 3, 2011

    He dared to engage in actual PREMARITAL SEX and they let him live?! This is an outrage! For such a heinous crime he, his girlfriend and their immediate family should all be summarily executed on national television by hanging, drawing and quartering!

  4. #4 Sara
    March 3, 2011

    Slightly OT – I’m the tiniest bit dyslexic and for some reason (even though my grandmother is a Mormon – maybe because of that?) I tend to read LDS as LSD. Then I giggle and continue reading.

    As to the actual topic, as one of my friends so eloquently put it on Facebook, “do like Ronny [from Jersey Shore] says and ‘Deny deny deny!'” My gut reaction was “Wha? Fer serious?” However, after consideration, I like that he was honest and admitted it and that the school is upholding their honor code.

    And it doesn’t hurt that I don’t care a whit about basketball.

  5. #5 CCPhysicist
    March 3, 2011

    Is BYU going to forfeit any games he played in AFTER he had sex but before he was kicked off the team?

  6. #6 Steven
    March 3, 2011

    I can’t imagine BYU’s design would stand up in court if Brandon Davies decided to challenge the decision. Not that I think he will actually challenge it, but I can’t imagine that a University actually has that kind of authority to legally enforce those types of rules. Though, maybe as a Canadian with no formal versing in law, I am way out to lunch?

  7. #7 Ken Thomas
    March 3, 2011

    I’m sorry Chad, but the LDS do not “have principles.” What they have is a two-century history of abuse of women and children, including psychological abuse, often perpetrated by cult-like manipulation of members.

    These “rules” are nothing more that a part of that system of control. They are not principles, they are means of social control– and I am rather disgusted to hear of the matter.

    Otherwise, Prof. Orzel, I am reminded of Mr. Orwell’s quip about comfortable, salaried English Professors defending totalitarianism and murder in the Soviet Union. I’m afraid if you’re using the forum you have to defend what goes on at places like BYU, you risk moving in that direction.

  8. #8 Tom
    March 4, 2011

    Ken, are you sure you want to equate totalitarianism and murder in a country from which you could not legally leave, with voluntarily attending a university and playing on their basketball team?

  9. #9 Jimbob
    March 7, 2011

    It does seem strange to suggest that holding principles is something noteworthy. By that logic the deaths of those girls who were stopped from leaving a burning building because they didn’t meet the public dress code in the Middle East is admirable because they were holding to principles. Instead of taking an extreme example though let’s imagine he was kicked out for being gay, or how about being black? Just because a decision holds to principles doesn’t make it any less silly or, as in my examples, vile. It would be a far more valid argument if he was kicked out for breaking the law, as it stands it’s just ridiculous.

  10. #10 Jimbob
    March 7, 2011

    It does seem strange to suggest that holding principles is something noteworthy. By that logic the deaths of those girls who were stopped from leaving a burning building because they didn’t meet the public dress code in the Middle East is admirable because they were holding to principles. Instead of taking an extreme example though let’s imagine he was kicked out for being gay, or how about being black? Just because a decision holds to principles doesn’t make it any less silly or, as in my examples, vile. It would be a far more valid argument if he was kicked out for breaking the law, as it stands it’s just ridiculous.

  11. #11 Tom
    March 10, 2011

    Jimbob, gay and black are involuntary, as is not taking the time to put on a burka when your house is on fire. Having sex with your girlfriend is voluntary. There’s a clear distinction, and the player presumably knew the rules and agreed to abide by them.

    We seem to be in agreement that the rule itself is silly, but I think it’s admirable that BYU is holding their athletes (who are, to a large extent, the public face of the university) to the rules, and not making exceptions for the star player.

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