Sports mad students at Brigham Young University were stunned that the team's star player was dismissed for violating the school's honor code -- reportedly by having premarital sex— but said today they think it was right thing to do and endorse the strict code.
Brandon Davies, 19, a forward for the red-hot Cougars, admitted a failure to live up to the honor code and has been axed from the team for the remainder of the season, according to Michael Smart, a spokesman for BYU.
Smart said the university does not make public details regarding honor-code violations, but the Salt Lake Tribune reported that Davies told the college he had sex with his girlfriend.
The BYU honor code stipulates that students must "be honest, live a chaste and virtuous life…use clean language" and abstain from alcohol, tobacco, tea, coffee and drugs. It also bars gambling, use of pornography and homosexual behavior, though "feelings or attraction" are allowed.
The tough action by the school is in stark contrast to the anything-goes attitude among much of top ranked college athletics as well as the social attitudes on most college campuses.
Davies, a sophomore who is a Mormon and a Utah native, is still a student a t BYU, although his status could change. "Some decisions regarding Davies' future on the basketball team and at the university are yet to be determined.," Smart said.
According to a statement from BYU Athletics, he had started 26 of 29 games this season and averaged 11.1 points.
The team has climbed up the rankings to No. 3 in the country, but in its first game without Davies, it lost badly to unranked New Mexico by a score of 82-64.
Nevertheless, Cougar fans said today that they supported they supported the school's decision.
"It was absolutely the right thing to do. We uphold the honor code. There are things that are more important than winning a basketball game," said Eric Christensen, 25, a BYU graduate student in information systems.
"I feel for Brandon Davies," he added and said that most students will support Davies and have shown their backing by creating a Facebook page "BYU Fans for Brandon Davies."
"I think it's a very hard decision because we're so proud of our team," said Kristen Scharf, 21, a junior studying advertising. "But I think BYU is all about honor and sticking to their values."
BYU Students Not Angry With Brandon Davies
She said students' attitude toward Davies is supportive.
"I have not heard any anger. I've heard a lot of love and support, because everyone makes mistakes," Scharf said.
Mormon students said they don't think the college's values concerning sex are outdated.
"It's a commandment in the religion. We believe that our bodies are sacred," said Spencer Blake Anderson, 25, an accounting student at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and a big Cougars fan. He said he did think certain other aspects of the code -- like the prohibition on beards -- should be changed.
Matthew Sayer, 24, currently on leave from BYU, said he was an intense Cougars fan who was disappointed by Davies' actions.
"I loved him," Sayer said. But he fully supported the university. "The rules are the rules. In college you're supposed to know better," Sayer said.
"I think it sends a very clear message about the values we support here," said his brother Ryan, 27, who is studying for his masters in physics. "The values definitely include no sexual relations outside of marriage."
He said that Davies' absence was a big blow to the team, which was reflected in the loss to New Mexico.
"It's kind of a fall from grace. It's unfortunate that we didn't do better last night," Ryan Sayer said.
Before the New Mexico game, coach Dave Rose said during his show on KSL radio that Davies' dismissal "was a surprise to everyone."
"What he's feeling right now is that he's let people down, let teammates down, let fans down," said Rose. "We all know what we sign up for when we come to BYU. The way he handled the mistake, he did the right thing."
BYU Supports Strict Honor Code Despite Loss of Star Player
A year ago, the star running back for BYU's football team, Harvey Unga, had to withdraw from the school along with his girlfriend, a basketball player for the college's women's team, because they were having sex. The couple had been dating for three years and they later married.