Honor code vs. team violations at BYU

Last week I wrote a column saying BYU made the right move in announcing linebacker Spencer Hadley had been suspended for violation of the school’s honor code. Late in the week, I was even more convinced.

Deseret News photo

Deseret News photo

The reason was the suspension of star receiver Cody Hoffman, who missed the Middle Tennessee State game due to “violation of team rules.”

By specifying Hadley’s honor code violation, BYU not only reiterated its standards to fans, players and  recruits, but differentiated between team and university sanctions (though they can sometimes be the same). Had BYU merely announced Hadley was suspended for violating team rules, it would have appeared that Hoffman and Hadley had basically broken the same rules.

In combining everything into the “violation of team rules” category, it would fail to differentiate between small things, like missing a team meeting, and major infractions of the honor code. Making the distinction might embarrass to honor code violator, but the team rules violator could be embarrassed if the suspensions are treated equally.

The Hoffman case illustrates the reason school and team violations shouldn’t be treated the same.

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  1. Mike Ellis

    I could not disagree more. The basis for this thinking is illogical. It is no one’s business what the violation is except Bronco’s and the player’s. The suspension is public but the reason is private. There is no need to drag a player’s name through the mud to satisfy a curious and even salacious media and public. Certainly there are different levels of team rule violations where not each violation receives the same level of discipline. This need not be spelled out either.

  2. Sean

    I too disagree with this column. There is no correlation whatsoever between the degree of seriousness of a player’s misconduct, and whether it is an honor code violation. If Mr. Rock is concerned about how serious a violation of team rules is, the length of the suspension should be satisfactory. Clearly, if a player has been suspended for one game they were not on the corner dealing drugs. If they are suspended for an entire season, it was clearly a more serious violation, but not something about which the public has a right to know, unless the player violated a law, in which case an arrest/conviction for that type of wrongdoing would be a matter of public record. If a player violated the school’s honor code but did something that is not illegal, such as get a girl pregnant or drink at the age of 22, there is simply no valid public interest in knowing that type of thing.

  3. Bricklayer

    My guess is that Hoffman had an unexcused absence or two from class and was suspended and left with conditions to attend class. That does not even begin to rise to Hadleys violations–and they do not deserve to be thrown in the same category. Hadley put the team in a vulnerable position because of his selfishness. No one needed to know what he did–but the SL Trib outed him. How could he think he could do that so many times and no one take notice? The real violation was when he failed to be forthcoming. At some point in an ecclesiastical endorsement interview he lied. Hadley’s suspension is modest at best for a team that promotes accountability. By the way, one important condition of Hadley’s return should be shaving that splotchy stash.

  4. Marcus A

    I take exception to the phrasing of the survey question: “How big an obstacle is the honor code…?” I would argue that it is precisely the honor code that makes BYU nationally relevant. No other school can take the no-star recruits, walk-ons and out-of-shape returned missionaries and compete at the highest level of college athletics. This is exactly why I root for BYU. Those who would trade away the honor code in order to “contend on a national level” don’t “get” BYU. There are plenty of other programs to root for.

  5. ktrain

    Why not just say that a player was suspended? Do we really need to know if it was for the honor code or for team rules? Same outcome, right? Obviously there are different reasons to get suspended (with different levels of severity), and so hearing that someone is suspended for 5 weeks vs 1 week would just lead people to the conclusion that Offense A must have been more serious than Offense B. End of story.

  6. Bob

    It is the business of no one (other than the players involved, the coaches, administration, and families) regarding suspensions. Just because these players play on a nationally televised football team with a world following doesn’t make it right to broadcast when they fall short of university or team standards. The suspensions are fine because they failed to meet their obligations, which they agreed to. But, to smear their name(s) doesn’t make sense to me. They should be helped through these trying personal times through understanding and forgiveness. That isn’t a product of the approach the media seems to embrace. Give the players a break — we all fall short — including the writers of these articles. Let the players work these problems out in private. Personally, I believe this is a much more healthy alternative.

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