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BYU/Davies: Mekeli Wesley reaches out in empathy

Published: Wednesday, March 9 2011 9:30 a.m. MST

PROVO — Media coverage of Brigham Young University, its men's basketball team, suspended center Brandon Davies and the BYU honor code entered its second week at nearly full-steam, fueled by the questions shadowing the Cougars as they begin postseason play, by ongoing global commentary on the university's actions and by Davies' presence on the Marriott Center bench during Saturday's regular-season finale against Wyoming.

Suspended from the hoops team last week for an honor-code violation, Davies drew supportive, encouraging chants from the sections of student fans during several lulls in Saturday's game and earned one of the loudest cheers when he was invited by his team to join in the championship post-game ritual of cutting down the nets.

The talking heads on TV sports shows like "Pardon The Interruption" and "Around the Horn" saluted BYU and Davies' weekend gestures as did other media, such as CNN's post "BYU basketball faithful still love Davies."

However, perhaps the most poignant coverage can be found with Diamond Leung's "Brandon Davies receives meaningful advice."

Leung writes of the empathetic outreach to Davies from Mekeli Wesley, who like Davies starred at Provo High and BYU . . . and who like Davies suffered a similar suspension from the Cougar team for his own honor-code violation more than a decade ago.

"I sat down with him and hugged him. We cried together," said Wesley, adding "I went through the exact same thing. He feels like he let the whole team down, the whole school down, the whole BYU nation down. That's a lot to deal with for a 19-year-old."

After sitting out his dismissal period, Wesley returned to play for the Cougars, earning Mountain West Conference player-of-the-year honors. BYU fans hope Davies will follow Wesley's path back to the Marriott Center court, which Wesley recounted for ESPN.

Wesley talked of tracking down Davies: "I said, 'Look, I know right now you're thinking hour-to-hour, day-to-day. There's no way you're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Right now, you see darkness. Trust me, it's going to be hard, but you have to be strong and in the end, people will respect you for overcoming your trail and adversity."

Wesley's show of support was a far cry superior than that over current big-name athletes Tim Tebow and Amare Stoudemire, reported by ESPN.

Tebow, the star quarterback and well-recognized Christian athlete, said "people definitely deserve second chances" and started to question whether BYU's "punishment" was appropriate.

Stoudemire, an NBA All-Star, was more direct in his Twitter responses: "Don't ever go to BYU, they kick a Young Educated (Black) Brother OUT OF SCHOOL . . . Come on BYU don't kick the kid out of school. Let's be honest he is n college. Let's the kid live a little."

Stoudemire likely confused the suspension with being booted from school (a decision to allow Davies to remain has not yet been made). But he returned a day later with a toned-down Tweet.

"I totally understand the actions of BYU, I totally respect the school an the conduct rules. BYU has a great athletic program," he posted.

Commentary continues to come in from a diverse range of voices and publications, such as:

The Washington Times' guest opinion piece "A national champion in deed," penned by Southern Virginia University president Rodney K. Smith, who has served as a member of the NCAA's Infractions Appeals Committee: "As a college president, I wish more universities and their leaders would stand firm for such principles, rather than seeking to find ways to skirt the principle to obtain a momentary financial or reputational reward. Wins translate into dollars, especially at this juncture in the season for schools with excellent basketball teams like BYU's. Wins also bring attention, students, accolades and even donors to institutions with successful big-time athletic programs. They tempt institutions to relent on their obligations as educations.

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