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BYU basketball player suspended: sports world shocked – and impressed

The BYU basketball player suspended for the season Tuesday broke the BYU honor code by having sex with his girlfriend. Sports writers are shocked but respect the school for sticking to its values – even though the decision could spoil a potentially historic season.

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FOXSports.com senior college basketball writer Jeff Goodman notes that “in an era in which big-time college athletics has run amok, BYU has maintained its core values and refused to sell out.”

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Not surprisingly, Jay Evensen, editorial page editor at the Deseret News (which is owned by the Mormon church) used a biblical analogy in his signed column Thursday:

"Collegiate sports scandals may well be the canaries in the coal mine of American ethics. If Christianity teaches that we put our hearts where our treasures are, then touchdowns and slam-dunks have become precious booty, indeed. We shouldn't be surprised that thieves will do all they can to get at those jewels.

"Against that backdrop, it's easy to see why so many people were stunned … when BYU booted one of its key basketball players for violating the school's honor code. Those shiny treasures hold so many people in a trance they can't imagine wanting anything else."

Mr. Evensen and other sports writers point to an investigative piece published this week in Sports Illustrated and headlined “College Football and Crime.”

SI’s six-month investigation found that 7 percent of the players in the preseason Top 25 teams (204 individuals) had been charged with or cited for a crime, nearly 40 percent of those involving serious offenses such as assault and battery, domestic violence, and robbery.

Such incidents are very rare among BYU athletes.

“I probably couldn't make a day following BYU's code. I need my coffee. Also, I curse sometimes,” writes sports columnist John Canzano at The Oregonian newspaper in Portland, Ore. “But at a moment like this, watching BYU wave off a guy who started 26 games, it's evident that their success is not accidental.... Just maybe … the notion that good values and a willingness to think long term has some worth. Because the alternative has left the rest of college athletics feeling like a slimy and dark underworld.”

Meanwhile, the Salt Lake Tribune reports that Davies’s apology to his teammates this week was “extremely remorseful, heartbroken.”

His teammates are standing with sophomore Davies, who may be able to rejoin the team next year.

“He told us everything. He told us he was sorry and that he let us down,” said BYU senior guard Jimmer Fredette, who scored 33 points in Wednesday night’s loss to New Mexico and is likely headed to the National Basketball Association next year. “We just held our heads high and told him it was OK, that it is life, and you make mistakes, and you just got to play through it.”

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