Brandon Davies, the starting center for the BYU Cougars basketball team, was suspended for the rest of the season for violating the school's honor code. It doesn't take a lot to violate the honor code at BYU, but that is the commitment every student makes when they decide to enroll in the university.
(The BYU honor code enumerates the requirements for every student to conduct themselves in a way that reflects the ideals and principles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.)
The university hasn't specified the cause for Davies's suspension, although a close connection to the school claims that Davies engaged in pre-marital sex with his girlfriend. While the exact infraction remains unconfirmed, one thing is for certain: He just put a serious damper on the Cougars hopes of getting a number 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and their chances of winning a national championship this year.
Although the Cougars aspirations for March Madness are going to suffer as a result of this transgression, let's not forget the positive side to this story: As collegiate athletic teams around the country are violating significant NCAA rules without punishment or penalty from their universities, except when they need to save face, it's great to see BYU restore some integrity and morality to its broken system. These types of decisions give us hope that Athletic Directors can choose right over wrong, in a field that so often chooses wrong over right. Pat Forde hit the nail on the head with his thoughts on the BYU scandal and it's a very worthwhile read.
As is the case with Mormonism, Judaism is a discipline meant to challenge us; to make us better people and, most importantly, L'davka Bo, bring us closer to God. It's not supposed to be easy. We are engaged in a life-long process of growing in our observance and faith without compromising its values. While many Jewish laws appear troublesome or simply difficult to understand and observe, it does not make it or other religions with similar restrictions, antiquated or devoid of any real meaning. Each ritual and religious tradition provides its adherents with its own unique portal to connect with God.
Davies violated the honor code. Unfortunately, his transgression doesn't only affect himself; it affects the other 11 players on his team who had high hopes of making a splash at the NCAA tournament. Sources report that he is remorseful and heartbroken. As a Mormon himself, Davies let a lot of his people down and is now facing expulsion from the University.
I hope that BYU will consider his remorse as the beginning of his repentance process, and see to it that he is given a second chance to succeed at the University. If the University does show compassion for Davies and allows him to remain a student at BYU, I am sure that he will use this event as a way to grow closer to God. It's the right decision to make, because that is what religion is all about.
Rabbi Joshua Hess blogs regularly about the intersection of religion and sports at 'The Fanatic Rabbi'.