Thoughts on ESPN's "Expose" of BYU's Honor Code

By: Mitch Harper 

On Sunday morning, ESPN’s Outside The Lines did a piece on BYU’s Honor Code.  The tone of the piece was that BYU’s Honor Code is driven by race.

Here is the entire piece that aired on Sunday, June 26th. CLICK LINK

First off, I found it odd that ESPN would air a piece like this.  Why?  When you consider BYU is one of ESPN’s entities now.  You would think they wouldn’t air a piece trying to suggest that the way BYU conducts its Honor Code is driven by race.

But overall the piece was about what I expected.  Nothing new when you compare it to the other “expose” written by a disgruntled former BYU employee who was fired by BYU, over at Deadspin.com back in April.

The problem that I continue to have with the ESPN and the Deadspin.com articles is that they never mention the majority of these incidents include individuals who weren’t LDS and in many cases engaged in criminal offenses.

Athletes that are non-LDS who come to BYU are in for a culture shock.  There’s no doubt about it.  Even for people who just attend a BYU Football game for the first time, it is different than any other place.  But the greatness and the success of BYU is driven through these high values.

These Honor Code scandal stories stem from the incident with Brandon Davies back in March.  No one seems to mention though, that despite getting his name dragged through the mud, Davies still wants to be back at BYU.  Davies is on track to rejoin the school and the baskeball program in September.  Despite Tico Pringle’s claims that this was possibly a race driven move, and things would of been different possibly had Jimmer been in Davies’ situation.

Listen to Brian McDonald, a former BYU Running Back (2000-2001) who had a run-in with the BYU Honor Code office in his days at BYU, but said he was treated fairly and he is a better man for his time at BYU.  Why didn’t ESPN/Outside The Lines consider players like McDonald and former Linebacker Bryan Kehl for the piece?

BYU’s Honor Code is definitely not a normal thing.  Do I agree with the rumored spying of students and student-athletes?  Absolutely not.  Do I agree with the snitching methods that many former players have said is how the Honor Code finds out about many of these issues? Of course not.  There is always room for  improvement.  But overall, I would say since Cecil O. Samuelson has been the BYU President (2004-Present), the school hasn’t been as over-zealous in violations/suspensions as the Merril J. Bateman era.  Allowing for players to have a second chance.  Unless of course it goes to the legal system where usually BYU is going to lay down the gauntlet.  And rightfully so.

The Honor Code will always be around whether you like it or not.  It is not going anywhere anytime soon.  Sometimes it is a frustrating thing to have as people who watch and love BYU sports.  This system has left BYU supporters with a lot of questions over the years.  What would of happened if Davies had been able to play in the NCAA Tournament?  Would Manti Te’o be at BYU right now?  Would the 2010 football team been a 9 or 10-win team with Harvey Unga at Running Back?

Great thing about all of this supposed controversy with BYU’s Honor Code since Davies’ suspension, is that it has actually had a positive impact on recruiting.  BYU’s Recruiting Coordinator for football, Joe DuPaix said in a recent article with the Salt Lake Tribune:

The exposure definitely has been beneficial, because now when you talk to a young man, he knows exactly what BYU is. It allows us to identify the kids that are our type of kids, because they understand more what it is to be a BYU kid.

The talent at BYU is getting better than ever, and from the sounds of it with BYU’s new talented staffs in both football and men’s basketball this coverage of the honor code is helping BYU’s cause to open new doors.  Players that are looking to be apart of a school that shares their beliefs and doesn’t have the distractions other schools might have.

Many players over the years have went to BYU because of their rules.  Jamaal Willis is a prime example.  Came to BYU from Las Vegas, Nevada and left the school as BYU’s all-time leading rusher and went on to play in the NFL.  Willis now works for BYU as an academic advisor.

If student-athletes come to BYU with the right attitude and make the best of the experience, they will have a great time at BYU.  They will get a terrific education and be part of one of the premier athletic programs in the country.   And that goes for black, white, brown, green, blue, or whatever color a student is.  Unless of course your red, then we might have to send you up to the hill.

Subscribe to the Cougar Center Podcast via the iTunes Store.  Search “Cougar Center” at the iTunes Store and it will send you directly to the Podcast.  Leave a rating or a comment while you’re there.

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Brian McDonald Bryan Kehl Jamaal Willis Joe DuPaix Outside The Lines Tico Pringle

  • kugrlover

    Great job, Mitch. My thoughts exactly.

    ESPN re-hashs Deadspin – and once again, the reporter is too lazy to make the effort to present both sides of the issue and talk to those who have been reprimanded and have come back to succeed both as BYU players and as good citizens/people.

  • kugrlover

    Great job, Mitch. My thoughts exactly.

    ESPN re-hashs Deadspin – and once again, the reporter is too lazy to make the effort to present both sides of the issue and talk to those who have been reprimanded and have come back to succeed both as BYU players and as good citizens/people.

  • matt

    I honestly think that ESPN is greatly benefited if BYU becomes hated. Hated for ratings is very good. They know enough Mormons follow BYU so that they will always get good ratings anyway. Now if people hate BYU their ratings will go sky high. I watch the Yankees and Lakers only because I love watching them lose. I think BYU will be similar soon, people will watch just to see those “crazy mormons” lose.

    • http://twitter.com/Mitch_Harper Mitch Harper

      Interesting point. BYU has always been hated, but this could send it to another level adding eyeballs that might not watch otherwise. I could definitely see that.

  • matt

    I honestly think that ESPN is greatly benefited if BYU becomes hated. Hated for ratings is very good. They know enough Mormons follow BYU so that they will always get good ratings anyway. Now if people hate BYU their ratings will go sky high. I watch the Yankees and Lakers only because I love watching them lose. I think BYU will be similar soon, people will watch just to see those “crazy mormons” lose.

    • http://twitter.com/Mitch_Harper Mitch Harper

      Interesting point. BYU has always been hated, but this could send it to another level adding eyeballs that might not watch otherwise. I could definitely see that.

  • Matt Quinney

    Saw @markjohnson42′s tweet to you about the article and had to jump on to read it. Great take; I honestly don’t know that I could have said it better. You guys do a great job on here and on your podcasts and I enjoy listening to them always. And great little jab at the school on the hill at the end.

  • Matt Quinney

    Saw @markjohnson42′s tweet to you about the article and had to jump on to read it. Great take; I honestly don’t know that I could have said it better. You guys do a great job on here and on your podcasts and I enjoy listening to them always. And great little jab at the school on the hill at the end.