Why Brigham Young University suspended its star basketball player

At this university, sex is a flagrant foul

Where sex is a flagrant foul

Bill Waugh/Reuters

When Brigham Young University announced that it was suspending sophomore forward Brandon Davies for the closing weeks of a dream season by its men’s basketball team, many sports fans must have had thoughts of a flamboyant 51-year-old Irish Catholic who may be the greatest athlete in the annals of the school. Davies was punished for violating the Utah university’s strict honour code, apparently by having sex out of wedlock with his girlfriend. BYU, in theory, expects all students to live a “chaste and virtuous life” according to the rules of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—but Jim McMahon says it’s not so simple.

McMahon, whose colourful language and dress alone would have been enough to turn the honour code upside down, played at BYU for five years, starting out as the Cougars’ punter and going on to shred the record books as their quarterback. McMahon now recalls how BYU’s administration threw him out of the school with suspiciously convenient timing—the day after his last bowl game. “They said they had ‘just been informed’ that I was doing some things,” McMahon told Miami radio station WQAM last week. “You follow me around, you stake out my apartment. You don’t know what I’m doing? C’mon. They know what’s going on there.” The bon vivant Chicago Bears great, who re-enrolled at BYU last fall to pick up the handful of credits he needs to complete his degree, added that he “saw a lot of hypocrisy” at the university, saying of Davies that “some guys get caught, some guys don’t.”

That was 30 years ago, and McMahon, unlike Davies, was no homegrown star. All BYU undergraduates are bound by the honour code, which (unlike student-behaviour codes at most universities) sets standards for grooming, polite language and avoidance of addictive substances, including caffeinated beverages. The code applies on campus and off. But things are clearly a little different in practice for the few hundred non – Saints scattered among the school’s 34,000 students. Davies, a Mormon, grew up in Provo, home to BYU’s main campus, and led a local high school to two state titles. He is living the college experience under the unblinking gaze of his community, his church, and the administration of his university, all at once.

Where sex is a flagrant foul

Bill Waugh/Reuters

The loss of Davies represents a serious blow to the basketball Cougars’ chances in the NCAA Division I Championship—the annual orgy of gladiatorship and gambling more commonly known as March Madness, which begins on the 15th. The announcement of the suspension came hours after BYU was named America’s third-best team in weekly polls of reporters and NCAA coaches. The team is led by James “Jimmer” Fredette, a six-foot-two Mormon point guard from upstate New York who is expected to earn national player of the year honours. Fredette’s buffet of moves and devastating long-range shooting have made him one of the most cherished folk heroes in college basketball since the era of “Pistol Pete” Maravich. NBA star Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder called him “the greatest scorer in the world!!” in an admiring January tweet.

The six-foot-eight Davies has been one of the few plus-sized passing targets for Fredette and is the team’s top rebounder. In the first game after his suspension, BYU promptly lost 82-64 at home to unranked New Mexico as he watched glumly, wearing street clothes at the end of the bench. Literally dozens of other tournament-eligible teams will have lost good players to injury in the final weeks before March Madness, but the combination of Fredette’s national following and a slightly prurient media angle has turned Davies’s loss into melodrama. Fredette is in his final year of college eligibility and gives BYU, which last made the Elite Eight stage in 1981, its best ever chance at a Final Four appearance.

The drama emphasizes the unique challenges faced by a private, church-run school with a strong countercultural commitment to old-fashioned conduct. (See also: Notre Dame.) BYU is meant to be, among other things, an advertisement for the worldly excellence of the Latter-day Saints faith, and athletics are an ever-growing part of that enterprise. Davies, unlike Jim McMahon, could not easily be written off or accommodated hypocritically as a “rebel” and outsider. His misstep confronted his school with a tough choice: compromise the fate of a team on the verge of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, or consent to a slight but humiliating erosion of its principles. Thousands, including many who have no particular love for the Mormon faith as such, will be cheering for the Cougars to elude the horns of the dilemma.


Why Brigham Young University suspended its star basketball player

  1. BYU should stick to their principles, but they should apply across the board, not just to basketball players or else their principles are meaningless. And there is such a thing as forgiveness if there is confession of wrongdoing.

    • BYU deals with Honor Code issues with various students daily. BYU does "apply across the board". BYU is a superb campus, with a great spirit to it. Please visit sometime and you will see that the priniciples taught are real and not meaningless.

    • I'm a former BYU student and I can assure you that the standards apply across the board. To not respond to Davies behavior would have been blatant favoritism of a star athlete.

  2. i would like to know how they knew they had sex?

    • He turned himself in. BYU doesn't do much "investigating". Even when people are accused, they mostly just ask the person if they are guilty

    • Davies self-reported that he had sex with his girlfriend. I don't think he's being given enough for his integrity and courage in making such a confession when so much was on the line.

    • Brandon Davies confessed his breaking of the Honor Code. No one and no department goes "staking out apartments" as McMahon states.

  3. Interracial sex calls for the death penalty

    Everything you never wanted to know about the BYU Honor Code can be found here:
    http://www.signaturebookslibrary.org/byu/chapter3… #honor

    Not quite sure how the Mormons reconcile this declaration of their namesake prophet, Brigham Young, but I'll leave that to the defenders of the faith . . . apparently it didn't make it into the 'honor code':

    "Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race ? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain [African race], the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so." (Mormon Prophet Brigham Young – Journal of Discourses, vol. 10, p. 110).

    • More like Journal of Discriminations. Why you would quote such crap, which really wasn't on the topic anyways, is beyond me. I guess you just like broadcasting your narrow-minded, antiquated, narcisisstic, judgmental, self righteous and pathetic perspectives and character defects. A little suggestion…..next time you start out with a question, "Shall I………", give those around enough time to answer, "No you shall not" so we don't have to waste our time with such ignorance.

      • <DIV>I guess Brigham Young wasn't a prophet then. Or perhaps a false prophet? Mormonism is in complete denial of its founding fathers with the exception of the undeniable claims that would completely unravel the Palmyra fraud for the racist leadership in SLC . . .</DIV> <DIV></DIV> <DIV>”I say now, when they [his discourses] are copied and approved by me they are as good Scripture as is couched in this Bible . . . ” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 264; see also p. 95</DIV> <DIV></DIV> <DIV>”I know just as well what to teach this people and just what to say to them and what to do in order to bring them into the celestial kingdom…I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture. Let me have the privilege of correcting a sermon, and it is as good Scripture as they deserve. The people have the oracles of God continually.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 95).</DIV> <DIV style=”FONT-FAMILY: times new roman, new york, times, serif; FONT-SIZE: 12pt”> <DIV style=”FONT-FAMILY: times new roman, new york, times, serif; FONT-SIZE: 12pt”>

  4. A few points to make…

    1) Sex is not a flagrant fout at BYU. Just be married and all is good. That is why so many at BYU are married. In this culture, young people grow up expecting to not have pre-marital sex, but the urges within us are just the same as all human beings.

    2) BYU does not go "staking out apartments" as stated by McMahon. For some odd reason, McMahon continues the juvenile comments into his 50's. We loved McMahon while at BYU. No question that McMahon had a hard time conforming to the Honor Code, but again, it is absurd to say that BYU stakes out an apartment, etc. I laughed when I read this.

    3) Remember, this is a University with 32,000 students coming froma ll kinds of backgrounds in the U.S. and abroad. I would assume most have raging hormones and among so many, there are a few who have tried pot, drugs, stealing, sex, porn, cheating, etc. But, the standard will go on in the LDS culture and will not adjust to meet the norms of societal views.

  5. Points continued…

    4) There is "hypocrisy" on every campus and congregation in the world. Mormons have their fair share of hypocrites. I know a few in other world class religions as well, having known them in career or from social settings.

    5) McMahons' comment that " some get caught and some don't is true, but most importantly at BYU, it is also true that the vast majority don't have pre-marital sex, cheat, steal, lie, drink alcohol, chew tobacco, smoke, drive drunk, etc.

    6) McMahon "easily written off as a rebel…". What a joke. Do you really think the decision to suspend Davies was a "tough choice"? Unbelievable. Go spend some time among students and on the campus. I mean days and weeks before you write your next article. Believe me, if BYU had found out serious errors by McMahon in following the Honor Code, he would have been disciplined in some fashion.

    Feel free to go on with the fantasy in your mind, that BYU treated McMahon differently. You could not be further from the truth. If one breaks the honor code and this is learned of, the student will be disciplined.

    • BYU does stake out apartments, the campus police also shine their lights into parked cars to see if the young are engaged in such activities. I know I was caught both ways. I attend the happy valley back in the 80's. Three of my friends were disciplined for having girls in their dorm rooms. How were they caught. Campus security peering through dorm windows. If that isn't creepy what is. The fact that BYU has its code is fine and those who break it are aware of the consequences. But please, stop this delusion that BYU does not police in this manner. What about the silent referal system set up at libaries, the testing center etc. Where a code can be punched in next to a student's ID if they are unshaven, hair is too long, shirt is too short, blouse is too low, etc. F

  6. Mormon is a religion of idiots and ignorant morons!! Who disriminate and hates anything or anyone that's different then them!!! I'm more worried of those morons then i am of "muslum extrimists".

  7. I’m still waiting for an answer to the confession / forgiveness question.

    • There most definitely is forgiveness. If you dig deeper into more reliable reports on the incident and its aftermath, you would know that the general feeling on campus is one of forgiveness of Brandon and pride in the fact that he did the right thing by voluntarily confessing. Sure, there is some disappointment in what will likely be a shorter March Madness run for BYU, but that is sports and this is real life. I, for one, find it refreshingly admirable in this day of shifting moral standards and often non-existent personal values that a star athlete would confess to something that he knew would get him expelled just like any other student, and that the university didn't hesitate to apply the same consequences to him as it would have to a no-name freshman. I would add that personally I don't believe Jim McMahon got any different treatment, but on the slim chance that he's right then I'm glad to see that BYU has repented of a prior double standard and upped its own game since the days Jim McMahon roamed the campus.

    • Confession of the sin is what will allow this honorable young man to grow and learn a valuable lesson. Forgiveness is what fans, team mates, and school administration are required to provide, but they cannot overlook the required consequence. The best lesson that anyone can learn from this is that we get to choose our actions, but we do not get to choose our consequences, even if we are a special athlete. This experience "can" have a very positive and huge character building effect on this young man. The only true forgiveness that matters is that of the our Savior Jesus Christ. And this young man is on the right path to receive that foregiveness.

  8. And because Jim McMahon says it, it must be so…….that's responsible journalism, I have to say.

  9. <DIV>Then how do you explain these comments:</DIV> <DIV></DIV> <P style=”LINE-HEIGHT: 16.8pt; BACKGROUND: white”>Brigham Young said his discourses are as good as Scripture.”I say now, when they [his discourses] are copied and approved by me they are as good Scripture as is couched in this Bible . . . ” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 264; see also p. 95).</DIV> <DIV></DIV> <P style=”LINE-HEIGHT: 16.8pt; BACKGROUND: white”>Brigham Young compared his sermons with scripture.”I know just as well what to teach this people and just what to say to them and what to do in order to bring them into the celestial kingdom…I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture. Let me have the privilege of correcting a sermon, and it is as good Scripture as they deserve. The people have the oracles of God continually.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 95).</DIV> <DIV>—

    • Let me know when the JOD was canonized, thanks. I am not at all sure what Brigham Young saying anything about anything really has to do with a BYU Basketball player in 2011 getting cut for the season, I will leave that to you critics of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

      • <DIV>. . . Has nothing to do with criticizing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and everything to do with criticizing modern day Mormonism which is nothing close to the church established by Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Their church of the 1800's has been highjacked by a bunch of uninspired businessmen parading as a religious order. Those are the facts.—

        • According to you but not me

  10. Many of the students at BYU are older and already married. So the temptation of the flesh is a bit more controlled.. All students, not just athletes, swear to the oath. Is this any different from a Catholic priest being defrocked for having sex? Oh wait, the latter hasnt happened in anyone's memory.

  11. One has to wonder how the BYU found out about his relationship and sexual activities?
    Perhaps someone has a grudge?

    • Read the comments. He informed the university himself of his actions.

  12. Mormonism was created by a convicted felon who lied , deceived and essentially invented a new religion. He sort of liked women allot so he made rules that allowed him as many as he wanted even the wives of others. Everything from their magical underwear to baptizing the dead of other faiths defies reason. This incident would not be an issue but for their fairy tale mystical invented religion.

    • Mahatam Gandhi and Nelson Mandella were also convicted felons.

      • I would love Gary to provide citations that Joseph Smith was anything he asserts and that Mormons believe in "Magical Underwear". Inasmuch as he has a spelling mistake I doubt he can

        • Did you know that male Mormons have to use a special undergarment with signs over each of their breasts, the navel and one of the knees? And this garment is supposed to "protect" them while being worn, thus fitting the description of a "magically" endowed underwear.

          Evidence that this magical undergarment works as "protection": none that I know of. By the way, you can get your Mormon underwear by buying it from the Mormon church, the only approved supplier of magical undergarments.

          Did you know that Mormons believe that some Jewish people were taken from ancient Judea into the American continent (the US, obviously, since Joseph Smith was born there) and they multiplied and flourished, eventually becoming two tribes, one good and one evil; the evil tribe destroyed the good tribe and were "punished" by having their skin colored in a darker color?

      • Their convictions were not based on fraud, deceit and taking money from the gullible. Their convictions were to advance the respective freedoms of their people. Therefore any analogy with the con artist Smith is false.

      • The courts convicted Joseph Smith of illegally and fraudulently operating a “bank” and ordered the “anti-bank's” officers to pay the normative $1,000 fine plus court costs (see Chardon, Ohio, courthouse, Vol. U, p. 362).

        The effect of this scandal on “Zion” was devastating. The dissolution of the bank proved that those who trusted Joseph's "revelation" had been duped by a con artist. The “New Jerusalem,” supposedly promised and revealed to Joseph Smith by God himself, failed for lack of funding. Smith responded to grumblings in his church by threatening to excommunicate any Mormon who brought suit against a brother in the church, which would, of course, include himself and Rigdon and any of the other conspirators in this fraudulent “revelation”.

    • Gary,
      Articles like this always attract the anti-Mormons like yourself. I am always amazed at the ease at which your type can lie and spread half-truths to try and discredit our faith, you must not have much self-respect or moral guidance in your life. Your comment is all about hate and judgement of which you have no ability to confirm, in fact I know that you have no desire to be truthful about anything that is related to the Mormon religion. It is all about hate and spreading negativity. Hopefully those that read posts like yours see it for what it is and do not take your words as anything but malicious negativity.

      • Sorry Mormonism does not pass the baloney test:
        The visitation of 1820 of God and Jesus to Joseph Smith has been shown by the mass of information on the supposed event, to have never occurred. The date conflicts with other recorded historical events and even with Joseph Smith's mother's account of her son's history! No one ever mentioned this revelation until Smith dictated it 18 years later! It plays no role at all in Mormon history until the 1860s. His early hand written account (1831-1832 diary) does not even mention God the father visiting. He forgot that God visited him? That is absurd. As Smith got older, he got bolder in his claims of power and visitations and the creating of an imaginary history is just part of that. He did this when there were fewer eyewitnesses around who could claim such events never happened or did not happen the way he testified to. When a Mormon reads the official history today it appears everything occurred in a certain order when in reality most items were back dated and created out of thin air to lend credibility to the ever increasing stories.

        • Sorry now this doesn't pass the test either as does your other assertions. Read Matthew B. Brown's book on the history of the First Vision

      • Smith said he had received a revelation, which would ultimately lead to the restoration of the true church and its priesthood, that had been lost. He believed this priesthood and authority had been lost for centuries, until he had his revelation during the 1820s near Palmyra, New York. Smith said, no other church on the face of the earth held equal authority and he became Mormonism's first modern-day prophet.

        Within the composite belief system that Smith subsequently devised, humanity is described as essentially "gods in embryo." Smith believed that God himself had once been a human being and had become a God through a process. And that his followers could become gods too, if they would follow his new religion.

        The supposed restoration of the lost priesthood and truth took place when Smith's divine revelation occurred. At that time Smith was a 14-year-old boy. Never-the-less he claimed that divine beings had told him not to join any existing church or religion, but instead to begin his own, which would become the one true and anointed church authorized by God.

        A similar story is told by Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder and leader of the Unification Church. Cult leaders such as David Koresh, Shoko Asahara of Japan and Jim Jones of the Peoples Temple all seemed to feel that God had given them an exclusive mission and somehow exalted their group above all others.

        • As does Jesus and also Hitler also believed in a superior race and he enforced it

  13. Some people want to make a big deal out of this story. For the most part, I think the consensus is that there is not much of a story. This athlete joined the university knowing what its policy was. He broke it. He turned himself in, so to speak. And he was penalized according to the stated policy.

    I, for one, like to see a university hold up values of chastity and faith – even if I don't agree with the particular faith in question. Many others these days don't understand such values, which don't adhere to modern secularism and social liberalism.

    Aside from all that, however, I don't really think there is much of a controversy, which is why the story really didn't last much longer than a few days.

  14. What I don't get is, if he apparently just came forth and "confessed" to premarital sex, what prompted him to do so? He just woke up in the morning and thought "I'm going to make an appointment and get this off my chest to the school." I don't think so. So where did the pressure to "voluntarily" confess come from in the first place?

  15. utah, ahh utah
    LDS churches are out the wazzooo with rules, and although he broke the code, perhaps it wasnt bis religion? my religion would conflict as it states that sex should be between loving partners and children should be educated, but hey, maybe martin luther, leader of the protestant revolution, one of the most influential men in europe was wrong.

  16. sex thats what the lds church is about,joe had sex with other mens wifes all the time lds church sex lyes money..there is no truth to it

  17. tom monsen has other wives but they are under cover,the church sayes they dont practice poligamy any more.thats openly.but under cover they do.all of the 12 aposeles have more wives but only them regular members are not allowed to..people are finding out that the church is not true and leaving every day/i left when i found the true history on the net.its good to be free

    • Brother Nieber Apparantly you left the truth behind when you logged on today.
      Tom Monson has never had but one wife.
      The Mormon Church does not practice polygamy under cover or in any other way.
      The twelve apostles did not all have more wives while the regular members could not.
      People are finding out every day that the Church is true and preaches and practices the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
      You left when you found a bunch of balderdash on the internet.

  18. Good for BYU for putting values before a basketball title. Brandon Davies made a mistake and is facing the consequences of that mistake. End of story. And for all of you that have never attended BYU or an LDS church service, stop making comments about something you know nothing about. Finally, Jim – you need to grow up and realize you could never have the integrity of someone like Brandon Davies or most other BYU students. No one forced you to go to BYU and I can guarantee you that no one ever staked out your apartment – that is the most ludricous thing I have ever heard and shame on MacLeans for taking his word for it!

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