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Commentary: Does the punishment fit the crime?
by Dan Eckles - Commentary
Mar 03, 2011 | 798 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
You can count me among the group of cynics watching BYU handle the Brandon Davies situation. Tuesday night, when I first heard BYU had suspended Davies from its nationally-ranked basketball team, I half serious, half jokingly said, "he probably broke the school's cherished honor code."

Sure enough, a day later when I heard reports he had been suspended from the team for doing just that, I wasn't all that surprised, just a little saddened. The honor code at BYU says students cannot use drugs, alcohol, tea, coffee and that they must be honest and abstain from premarital sex among other things.

The Salt Lake City Tribune has reported Davies had sexual relations with his girlfriend and that was the reason for his suspension. Last I heard, it was unclear if Davies had been suspended for the remainder of the basketball season or was set to be dismissed from the team entirely.

Davies is the second-leading scorer and leading rebounder for the BYU team that has vaulted to third in the national polls this week. Although without Davies, the Cougars were dumped 82-64, at home, Wednesday by an unranked New Mexico team.

Many believed the Cougars had a real shot at earning a No. 1 seed and making a deep run in the upcoming NCAA Basketball Tournament. A Salt Lake Tribune poll today had results running about 80-20 that Davies dismissal had wrecked the Cougars' chance of getting to the Final Four.

Davies is BYU's best low-post player on a team thats biggest knock against it is a lack of front-court depth. He will be missed.

In listening to sports talk radio over the past few days most folks seem to come down on one of two sides of the issue. They are either in the camp that believes the honor code is archaic and out of touch with reality or applaud BYU for not sacrificing its integrity despite an enhanced opportunity to win more basketball games.

I kind of agree with both and yet I strongly disagree with Davies' punishment. Firstly, I do believe The BYU honor code is outdated and over-the-top. Still, this is a free country and its fine if others want to live their life differently than me.

Secondly, Davies agreed to attend and play for BYU. He knew what he signed up for and he should be prepared for consequences since he apparently chose not to live by the Mormon institution's rules. And good for BYU for not jeopardizing its ethics and morals when keeping Davies on the team when he gives the school a chance to make a lot of money and get a lot of positive press in an NCAA Tournament that looks up for grabs.

Now here's my issue and I haven't heard anyone really make this point in the past couple days. Does the crime fit the punishment? I don't think so. That's why I wonder if there's more to this story than we all know about. Why not just suspend Davies for a few games or the remainder of the regular season?

Suspending him for the rest of the season and possibly taking away his scholarship, seems pretty harsh. This seems especially true for a school with a religious background that preaches living the right way. What about forgiveness and second chances?

I was reading comments on the Web on the BYU student newspaper's site. One reader actually wrote this: "More important than Davies' basketball career or BYU's season is his salvation and this move is made for the exact purpose to help him change course."

Really? Davies didn't steal anything. He didn't assault anyone. He had premarital sex. The punishment does not fit the crime and the fact anyone really believes his salvation is at stake because of that, is way off the reservation.

I'd certainly like to believe the good Lord is a little more forgiving than that reader gives him credit for. I hope so, for all our sakes.

Dan Eckles is the Sparks Tribune's sports editor. He can be reached via e-mail at: deckles@dailysparkstribune.com
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