March Madness has begun! The world of collegiate basketball has entered into the season for champions. Winners move on while losers go home and wait until next year. Among the 68 elite teams chosen was Brigham Young University.
The Mormon college has been in the news lately not only because of their basketball team's prowess on the court but more often because of its’ actions off the court.
A couple of weeks ago BYU made national headlines by suspending sophomore star player Brandon Davies, for violating the school's honor code. Reportedly, Mr. Davies engaged in premarital sex with his girlfriend.
The BYU Honor Code is based upon the Mormon Church's Thirteenth Article of Faith which states: "We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men. ... If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things." Along with Mormon values such as abstaining from alcohol, tobacco, tea, and coffee, the honor code encourages honesty, chastity, obedience to civil law, participation in church, and the observation of proper dress and personal grooming. Each and every student and faculty member of BYU is called to live by this code of honor.
Sadly, Brandon Davies did not live up to the code he pledged to live by. He was suspended from the team for the remainder of the season. He is the leading rebounder and a double-digit scorer and his absence will have a major impact upon the team's success. But for Davies, his coach and teammates the honor code is a way of life and to violate it has consequences they all willingly accept. Davies apologized to his coach and teammates and was told by them "it was OK, that is life, and you make mistakes but you just play through them."
This incident is a powerful statement to the world of collegiate sports. Too many universities- including many Catholic colleges - have cowardly lowered and even abandoned basic standards in order to obtain athletic success and the monetary gains that come with it. Too often headlines are filled with off campus antics and even criminal acts by college athletes. Academic achievement and a virtuous life are cast aside in favor of a winning team.
We commend Brandon Davies for having the courage to admit his failures in such a public manner and accept his punishment in such an honorable way. We must also commend BYU and their basketball program for keeping their honor and living virtuously without regard for the cost to its athletic success. BYU stands as a shining example of what a faith-based college should truly be and so often is not. Catholic colleges across the country would do well to emulate the shining example of BYU.