BYU basketball: Honor code getting national attention
Mike Terry, Deseret News
PROVO — For months, the BYU basketball program has received a vast, unprecedented amount of media attention.
Now, the school's stringent honor code, and suspended forward Brandon Davies, are the subjects of intense media scrutiny.
That's why BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins and athletic director Tom Holmoe held a news conference at the Marriott Center on Wednesday afternoon to answer questions about the school's code of conduct, and how it is applied, in the wake of Tuesday's stunning dismissal of Davies, one of BYU's top players.
Davies was suspended for the remainder of the season for violating the honor code, just as the No. 3 Cougars (27-3) are enjoying their best regular season in history. Davies' dismissal is being discussed and examined on television and radio programs as well as Web sites and social media sites.
It's all part of the world we live in, Holmoe said, acknowledging that exposure can be either positive or negative.
"Our student-athletes have received incredible adulation. With the media, you're going to see great things for publicity. And you're going to see times now where it affects Brandon adversely," he explained.
"I don't think there's a way that we can take a student-athlete and say, 'You're an athlete, we have to protect you from the media.' We don't want to throw them to the wolves. That's not our intention at all.
"But we understand that with high-profile players, and high-profile people, they're going to be in the media," Holmoe said. "We won't relax the honor code for a situation that has to do with a basketball player."
Jenkins emphasized that the honor code is "applied fairly and in a fair manner" to all students, regardless of their status at the school.
On Wednesday, prior to BYU's 82-64 loss to New Mexico, Jenkins listened to students tell reporters that "they have great faith that the honor code is applied fairly, that it is the same for a star athlete as for the student majoring in English that may not representing the university in any way."
While Davies remains a student at BYU, his future at the school, and his status on the basketball team, have yet to be determined. The Honor Code Office continues to review Davies' case and there is no timetable for that review to be completed, Jenkins said.
BYU became aware of Davies' honor code violations Monday. By Tuesday evening, in response to media inquiries about Davies, the school released a terse e-mail announcing Davies' dismissal from the team.
The news instantly made national headlines, as pundits examined how the loss of Davies would impact BYU's seeding, and performance, in the NCAA Tournament.
Last Saturday, the Cougars claimed one of their biggest wins in school history as they defeated San Diego State on the road on national television. On Monday, BYU had earned its highest national ranking in 23 years.
That same day, Holmoe said, Davies came to him and coach Dave Rose seeking "direction and counsel ... There was a serious violation of which we were made aware. He used us as a resource."
Added Holmoe: "The first thing we did was put our arms around (Davies). Our No. 1 thing then, now and in the future is going to be to look out for his best interests, to be able to make sure we can help him along the process of getting him back with the team and getting back on track to achieving all of his dreams."
Rose, who also attended the news conference, said he's optimistic that Davies will be able to rejoin the team at some point.
Holmoe acknowledged that most people around the country won't understand the honor code and BYU's actions.
"This is something for us. We live this. This is who we are," Holmoe said. "We understand that people across the country might think this is foreign to them. They're shocked and surprised. But for us, we deal with this quite often. This situation, because of the timing, brings a lot of attention. But we've handled it the exactly same way if there was no media (attention)."
Asked about the media attention surrounding the Davies situation, Jenkins said, "The attention that we've received actually very much reflects the importance we that place on the honor code here at BYU. While there is some acknowledgement that it may not be understood, there is certainly respect that it is something we uphold. ... There is an understanding of the integrity of the honor code. It's something that is applied fairly to all students. It's not something that we winked at. It's something upheld by every member of the campus community."
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