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Sports Column: Brigham Young upholds the conservative code

He didn’t break the law, but he did break a promise. And at Brigham Young University, this promise is sacred.

BYU made news last week by announcing that starting forward Brandon Davies had been released from the third-ranked men’s basketball team. The reason? A breech of the school’s Honor Code; reportedly, Davies had sex with his girlfriend.

Gasp! That’s it?! He didn’t rob a bank? He wasn’t failing five classes? He didn’t describe any of his professors with homosexual slurs on Twitter?

Nope. Although any of those would have done the trick, too.

By now, the millions of Americans previously oblivious to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints — or who thought polygamy was still the norm — have formed opinions about the Provo, Utah, school and its code of conduct. Not surprisingly, most of the feedback has been highly critical of BYU’s lofty expectations and decisive action.

I should clarify: ‘not surprisingly’ does not mean I agree with the Mormon-bashing. I am not Mormon, but I wholeheartedly back BYU’s enforcement of its honor code.

Any student that attends college at BYU must sign the code, which requires chastity, abstinence from drug use (alcohol, caffeine and illicit varieties included), refraining from questionable language and adherence to specific dress and grooming specifications.

Davies, who grew up in Provo, had other options. He had written offers from California, Utah State and Gonzaga, all of which were ranked higher than BYU during the 2008-09 season, when Davies committed. He had planned to go on an LDS mission, a required two-year placement as a church missionary, after this season before returning for his junior and senior seasons. Clearly, he knew what he was getting in to.

“It just felt right to choose BYU,” Davies said upon committing in 2008. “It’s close to home, and I have a huge support system if I go there, with my family close by and my high school teammates and all the people who have helped me over the years.”

I’ll give kudos to the Cougars for sticking to their guns. This was a no-win situation for BYU: if it had kept Davies on the team, the BYU community would have cited favoritism toward athletes and an apparent elevation of sports above morals. The choice the school made resulted in widespread criticism of the school’s traditional values.

For a place like Athens, there’s a lot about BYU that will never make sense. Why would anyone want to go to a school that expels students for drinking or hooking up on the weekend? No bikinis at the first hint of sunshine in April? What’s wrong with coffee? What’s wrong with pot? What the heck is modesty?

Ohio University does a fabulous job promoting a variety of minority groups, mostly on the liberal end of the spectrum. But there are a number of very conservative groups that seek and receive little support on campus. Believe it or not, there are plenty of students in Athens who abhor the perpetual drunkenness, hook-up culture and general ignorance to anyone with traditional values. Old-school integrity exists outside of seemingly obscure religions based in Utah.

BYU’s verdict was decidedly strict. One-strike-you’re-out policies are just but unforgiving. Davies awaits the school’s decision about his future as a student and his future eligibility as a Cougar. Honesty is a good policy. Then again, so is forgiveness.

Michael Stainbrook is a sophomore studying journalism and a staff writer for The Post. If you think he was born 150 years too late or 1,500 miles too far east, e-mail him at


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