PROVO — The video board at BYU’s Marriott Center displayed some of the top marks from the Dave Rose era on Tuesday: 348 career victories, No. 2 in BYU history; eight NCAA Tournament appearances; a .720 winning percentage, best in school history; and 13 consecutive 20-win seasons.
What those numbers don’t tell you — on the day that Rose announced his retirement after 14 years as the Cougars’ head coach — is the impact he made in people’s lives, a factor less quantifiable but no less significant.
“Coach Rose is one of the best men you’ll ever meet,” said Nick Emery, who was a part of Rose’s final team at BYU.
Emery's story shines a light on the character of the man he's called coach for the past four years. The junior guard was at the center of an NCAA investigation that concluded Emery had accepted more than $12,000 in extra benefits from four boosters.
Part of the punishment handed down by the NCAA — which has been appealed by BYU — included the vacation of 47 wins when Emery was playing as a freshman and sophomore. It also included two years probation from Nov. 9, 2018, through Nov. 9, 2020, a reduction of one men’s scholarship served during the earliest possible academic year and three penalties self-imposed by the university: recruiting restrictions detailed in the NCAA report, dissociation of one of the boosters and a $5,000 fine.
Emery sat the 2017-18 season as the investigation began and was reinstated to the BYU program by the NCAA the next summer, with the stipulation he sit out the first nine games of the 2018-19 season.
Two things Emery said the coach has taught him are to live life and treat everyone right. That was especially true as Emery went through the challenge of returning to BYU.
“Even though my whole situation, he saved me. To be back here at BYU, I owe it to Coach Rose and it’s a bittersweet feeling today obviously,” Emery said. “I’m happy for him and his legacy here, but I’m excited for him in the future and know we’ll continue to have a lasting friendship.”
Befriending others was on Rose's mind, too, as he announced his retirement.
“What I’ll always remember are the players — the relationships I’ve had with the guys, with the coaches,” he said.
The coach's influence reached far beyond Provo.
“Everywhere I go, I know one thing: Dave’s peers in college basketball think the world of him. They love him," BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said.
Back home, Emery, who grew up in Utah County, had a front-row seat to seeing the care with which Rose interacted with others.
“Coach is alway looking out for others and who he can serve next. It’s been a big blessing playing for him and seeing how he interacts with people. There’s the basketball side to things, but off the court he’s a fun guy to be around,” Emery said.
How Rose treated Emery despite the challenges the investigation put on the program made an indelible impression. The first memory to come to Emery's mind when asked about a favorite moment playing for Rose was the Cougars' game against in-state rival Utah State this past year. That was the game Emery rejoined the team coming off his suspension.12 comments on this story
“He put me in, trusted in me, believed in me through the process of what I was going through and I just remember him giving me a hug at the end of the game and said, ‘I told you so.’ I told him that we would make it,” Emery said.
“I kind of got emotional then but that’s what he’s all about is a second chance, giving players the opportunity to excel at whatever they’re going through because everyone does have challenges. He understands that. To have him hug me at the end of the game and say we made it, now let’s continue building on it, it meant the world to me and showed what type of person he is.”