The state of college athletics is a joke.
Recruiting violations, blatant dishonesty, sex scandals, drug use, and academic fraud abound in nearly every beloved NCAA sport. By kicking Brandon Davies off the team with only a few weeks to go in the season, Brigham Young University is doing something that isn’t done very often anymore—attempting to put honesty and morality before wins.
The NCAA, especially in the realms of basketball and football, isn’t exactly a system that encourages academic and moral excellence. For that matter, the world of sports isn’t exactly the type of world that encourages those virtues. Last year I read a report about the graduation rate of the 64 teams in the NCAA tournament. Some records were impressive, but the majority were barely mediocre. Maryland was somewhere near the bottom with an eight percent graduation rate. You would imagine that Maryland probably had to pull a lot of strings to keep a team like that eligible, but they did a decent job of playing ball last year. There is a high cost, though, to pulling strings for athletes that are clearly not mature enough to act decently.
The NCAA will never have enough support to take a stand against it all—and even if they did I am not sure they would want to. We like our Michael Vicks and our Tiger Woods too much to put up a big protest. I think that the NCAA turns their heads a lot more than we realize, only occasionally investigating certain programs for recruiting violations. These investigations, though, are just often enough that it makes you wonder how many violations there are that no one ever hears about. And that is just recruiting violations—think of what an accumulative police record of our student athletes would look like, as well as those non-criminal acts that are blatantly immoral.
There will most likely be a lot of Hollywood-esque speculation as to what it was that Davies actually did. Then there will be a lot of people who question the Honor Code and whether or not it is too strict. There will be people claiming that Davies has been exiled and comments about why judgment doesn’t have a place in the Honor Code. I don’t think he will be exiled, but he will be treated like every other student at BYU; and that certainly isn’t too much to ask from our athletes. Word is that Davies turned himself in. If so, good for him; he will be better off in 10 years than a Michael Vick will be in his entire lifetime.
So can BYU ever win by putting principle (and a relatively strict one, at that) over winning games? The obstacles are indeed great. Several analysts at ESPN think, though, that it is certainly possible if everything falls together. They have a good point in that we could have been very close this year, and we did win the national championship in football. In today’s world, though, I am not so convinced. I think this season was exceptional, and it would have still been a miracle if we had actually won the championship. I think that a deep run into the tournament is a possibility, it just isn’t probable enough to make a difference.
Especially after today’s loss vs. New Mexico, I am starting to see that if BYU is serious about an NCAA championship, something needs to change. I think, though, that what BYU is doing has far better consequences than what other programs are doing for their athletes. By never allowing them to grow up, they are doing them a huge dis-favor. If all they care about is winning, though, in the words of an anonymous post that I found while following the game online:
“BYU needs sum bruthas with criminal records.”