If you’re a BYU sports fan, you’ve probably read the Deadspin.com article on the Cougars and minority athletes. The article addressed perceived racism and favoritism surrounding the school’s athletic programs.
The article went on to quote several African-American former players who said there is a double standard. It also talked about Polynesian players, thought it claimed they get more lenient treatment when it comes to the honor code. Unfortunately, it didn’t talk to Reno Mahe is an example of a BYU player who was punished by the honor code, yet claimed it helped him grow up.
Other former football players harshly criticized the school.
While it was an interesting article, it continued to state an old argument that many non-LDS and non-white players aren’t fully informed of the honor code. I once got a ticket for driving on a street with a “road closed” sign. When the cop picked me up, I said I didn’t know it was against the law, I just thought it was a warning to be careful. His response: “It’s you responsibility to know the driving laws when you get in a car.”
I don’t believe many athletes get shortchanged when it comes to information on the honor code. I’m not saying BYU can’t be heavy handed. I once got called into the standards office at Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho) over a minor offense – my hair was getting too long. The guy who interviewed me was a bully. I was a little surprised. I was also put off by some of the standards office spies – same kind as those mentioned in the Deadspin article. But I also knew my hair was getting borderline long, so I dealt with it. And I never said I wasn’t properly informed.
One former BYU player said there was drinking and sex at parties and “the school didn’t know about it and the coaches didn’t know about it.”
Sounds to me like the players knew more about the honor code than they’re letting on.
I’m not saying there aren’t imbalances and cases where thing went badly. A lot of the Gary Crowton era was a mess. But I don’t believe BYU is purposely harsher on minority athletes. Why recruit minority players only to kick them off the team at a high rate?
In the case of basketball player Brandon Davies, why would BYU kick him off the team just to make a point, when it had a chance to go to the Final Four? If BYU really wanted to enhance its public image, it would have tried to win a national championship, not suspend its top rebounder.