Jeff Benedict: The story of how I learned the details of Kyle Van Noy's past
Van Noy to kids in trouble: It's OK to ask for help
It would have remained a secret if Van Noy had kept silent. That would have been the easier thing to do. But he felt obligated to come clean, despite knowing that doing so would probably end his BYU career before it began.
In March 2009, he emptied his piggy bank and purchased a plane ticket on Southwest. “I gathered up all the money I could and flew up here to face Coach Mendenhall face to face,” Van Noy told me.
One of the best scenes in THE SYSTEM is Kyle Van Noy entering Coach Mendenhall’s office. Pleasantly surprised, Mendenhall smiled and asked: “What are you doing here?”
Instantly, Mendenhall’s smile evaporated when Van Noy looked away, biting his lip. Then his eyes welled up. So did Mendenhall’s.
“Kyle, talk to me,” Mendenhall said. “Let me help you.”
It was a defining moment in Van Noy’s life, much bigger than any play he’d ever make on a football field. He looked Mendenhall in the eyes, held nothing back, and braced for the worst.
Rather than judge him, Mendenhall accepted him. “We all have our struggles,” Mendenhall told him. They embraced. Then Mendenhall went to bat for him with the AD and the dean of students.
“That day I would have never thought I would become what I am now,” Van Noy said. “As a 16-year-old I was pretty lonely. Bronco reached out. Words can’t describe how I felt.”
It was warm outside as he told me that story. But I had goose bumps. The thing I kept coming back to was that Mendenhall and the BYU administration would have never known about the second arrest if Van Noy hadn’t told them. That’s integrity.
Moreover, three years later, as we sat there on the practice field, the BYU fan base and the media still didn’t know about that second incident. The dean, the AD and Mendenhall had properly kept it confidential. But by sharing it with me, Van Noy was putting it out there for every college football fan in America to read in a book.
“Young kids in trouble need to realize it is OK to ask for help,” he said. “Because of the things that I’ve done, I can say, ‘Hey, you’re not alone.’ Coming here made me realize that it is OK to ask for help.”
Jeff Benedict is a best-selling author and columnist for SI.com. He recently wrote "THE SYSTEM: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football" with Armen Keteyian.
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