Cougar fans were welcomed with good news as they returned to campus this week: Brandon Davies is back.
Davies was famously suspended from the BYU basketball team in March because of an Honor Code violation amid Jimmermania and the Cougars’ most successful season in 30 years. Now he is back on campus as both a full-fledged student and star basketball player.
The national response to Davies’ suspension six months ago was generally an approving nod and an enthusiastic pat on the back. In today’s college sports world, the NCAA punishes a new school so regularly you can set your watch by it. (LSU, Miami, Duke, Ohio State, USC — need I go on?)
So, a major university that upholds its standards — even while riding high on its wave of success — was a breath of fresh air to many. Even more commendable was, in this case, BYU only had to answer to itself, not the NCAA, and still acted responsibly.
But even with countrywide respect, there was still plenty of bewilderment.
Many sports reporters admitted they wouldn’t last under the Honor Code, and many wondered why anyone would ever try. After all, the things considered a violation against the BYU Honor Code are considered a typical weekend to a lot of other people.
Behavior that leads to discipline at BYU is not only tolerated by frat brothers and sorority sisters on other campuses but expected and often encouraged by society. They might wonder: How could a modern university, even a religious one, require its student population to live according to such outdated and puritanical beliefs?
Outsiders tend to think of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or organized religion in general, as an extraneous institution with the sole purpose of making people feel guilty. They think our doctrine is just a bunch of dos and don’ts, heavy on the don’ts.
According to them, we believe if we let our guard down then we are destined for eternal fire and brimstone.
Now that we have arrived at Davies’ happy ending, however, the confused and the critical can know the whole truth.
By reinstating Davies, our university showed we do not blindly follow archaic, draconian rules, as some might call them. Compared to the rest of the world, BYU is strict, but there is always room for second chances.
The gospel of Jesus Christ, the foundation for BYU’s Honor Code, not only teaches us the difference between right and wrong but teaches us how to right the wrongs.
Any other teaching would be denying the power of Christ’s Atonement. As Isaiah wrote, “saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18).
BYU’s mission is “to assist individuals in their quest for perfection and eternal life,” and we know it’s not an easy mission. Whether our sins are deep crimson or a light shade of pink, we all have a long way to go before that quest ends.
It will take time, hard work, practice and a few lessons learned the hard way. But thanks to the Savior, we always have hope. We can always get up and try again.
Davies remembered that truth. Instead of retaliating against his school and joining its detractors, like many twentysomethings (including a few of us) would have done, he knew BYU was helping him. He recognized his school believes in forgiveness.
“I’m excited to be back at BYU and look forward to the future,” Davies said. “I’m grateful for this opportunity.”
Brandon, so are we.
J.J. Despain is the web editor for The Daily Universe. This viewpoint represents his opinion and not necessarily that of The Daily Universe, BYU, its administration or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.