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BYU stands by call to dismiss star athlete for 'honor code' violation

By the CNN Wire Staff
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BYU player suspended for premarital sex
  • Brandon Davies is kicked off the Cougars' basketball team for 'honor code' violation
  • Sources tell the Salt Lake Tribune that Davies admitted to having premarital sex
  • School officials say that Davies is being treated like any other student
  • The athletic director defends the honor code, calling it "a strength" for BYU

(CNN) -- Brigham Young University officials on Thursday stood by the decision to dismiss a standout player on the Cougars' highly ranked men's basketball team, saying they are treating Brandon Davies just like they would any other student.

The school's athletic department announced Tuesday that Davies -- a starting forward from Provo would no longer be part of the team this season. The university came into the week ranked third in the nation in the Associated Press Top 25 and Coaches polls.

Officials did not specify why, exactly, Davies was being suspended during a press conference Thursday.

But the Salt Lake Tribune, citing "multiple sources," said that the sophomore violated the honor code provision prohibiting premarital sex among students.

Many schools have honor codes, with students mandated to live and learn by certain standards. Still, the one that applies for students at Brigham Young's campuses in Utah, Hawaii and Idaho is more extensive than most, part of a conscious effort to "provide an education in an atmosphere consistent with the ideals and principles of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints."

The BYU code include requirements for "modest, neat and clean" dress and grooming; abstinence from alcohol, tobacco or illegal substances; any physical intimacy that exhibits homosexual feelings; prohibiting members of the opposite sex from going in one's bedroom areas; and regularly participation in church services, be they in the Mormon or another religious faith.

Tom Holmoe, the school's athletic director, said Thursday that its honor code is something that the university does not shy away from. And it applies equally to all students, athletes or not, with Davies simply being held to the same high standards as anyone else.

"We understand that people across the country might think this is foreign to them, and they are shocked and surprised," said Holmoe. "But for us, we deal with this quite often."

While officials would not specify when the process began, Holmoe said that Davies "was involved from the very beginning." He was dropped from the team just weeks ahead of the NCAA basketball tournament, in which BYU -- led by star Jimmer Fredette -- is a contender to be one of four top seeds. The Cougars lost their first game without Davies to New Mexico on Wednesday, only their third defeat this season.

"We all love Brandon," Dave Rose, the team's coach, told reporters Thursday. "He's a great teammate, and he's been great for our team."

Rose admitted that the team was "disappointed" by Davies' ouster. But especially with a few days' hindsight, the coach said they were ready to tackle the "huge challenge" that lay ahead of them.

The decision to remove Davies was made by the university athletics department, pending the results of the full honor code investigation.

School spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said there's no timetable for that probe, which could potentially lead to Davies' permanent dismissal from the team or from the school.

But Holmoe said that he hopes Davies, who remains a student at BYU, returns to the court next season.

"I know Brandon Davies, and what I'm looking forward to ... is to see him come back strong," the athletic director told reporters. "This young man has dreams and goals."

Holmoe said officials and coaches at BYU don't view the honor code as a negative, admitting there is some "self-selection" as to which students embrace it and come to the university.

"We get kids who want to come here, who say this is what they want," he said. "We recruit to our strengths, and that is a strength."