Like abortion, illegal immigration, and the QB depth chart, the BYU Honor Code always seems to find its way back into a big debate for BYU sports.
Although BYU football – and other teams on campus – are by no means limited to LDS players, the university’s Honor Code plays a significant role in athletics. With the recent reports and issues between the Honor Code Office and the BYU Police Department, the question of the Honor Code going too far has once again emerged as a common talking point around Cougar Nation.
Since this is a sports site, we won’t get into the details of what happened, but rather show how it affects BYU sports.
For years, fans have suggested the idea of not holding athletes, particularly athletes who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to a lower level than the normal students. Others have thought that the Honor Code is so strict that it causes more problems than it prevents.
While there is a valid argument on the second issue, the first issue is ridiculous. As an athlete you shouldn’t be held to a different standard. The Church doesn’t work like that, and neither should organizations in general. Everyone should be held to the same standard of ethics and rule abiding whether that is at school, work or out in public.
At BYU, student athletes can’t drink, smoke, have premarital sex and they have to receive an ecclesiastical endorsement. There are other rules to the honor code, however those will probably not get you suspended for a season.
Granted, that will turn some athletes away from BYU sports, particularly the major sports since they have more resources for recruiting, but the reality of the situation is that as fans we should feel lucky that BYU is considered by many as a Power Five school.
Most schools that have honor codes are small, religious universities. You never really hear of these schools because they don’t really do much in the sports world. Most athletes prefer to go somewhere where they don’t have to feel afraid of getting suspended if they break an honor code rule that is not even against the law.
After all, as a human race we tend to feel more comfortable with more freedoms, not less. For this reason, most of these schools with honor codes do not even have athletic programs. The ones that do, tend to compete in conferences with other religious schools. They almost never compete nationally. Some of the schools with honor codes include Pensacola Christian College, Bob Jones University, and Liberty. Sure Liberty is D1, but they aren’t even in the same galaxy as far as achievement and national following go.
BYU is the only exception.
BYU is the only school in the nation, that has a strict honor code and is still successful in sports at the Division-I level.
Although I am more in favor of a system that holds students more accountable for their own actions and have it stay between them, their religious leaders and God, in my five years at BYU I never had an issue with the Honor Code Office and I know that most other students didn’t either.
When you come to BYU you know what you sign up for, and an inability to follow those rules should result in consequences. And at the end of the day, I would rather know that the athletes are being held to the same standard as the other students and lose a few games, then have BYU compromise just to get a few wins.