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Monday, March 07, 2011

Where Signing on the Dotted Line Still Means Something

If you have caught any talk radio, sports or otherwise, you are probably aware that BYU (that's Brigham Young University) dismissed their star player from the basketball team. The team was enjoying an unusually high NCAA rating this season. It is a shame that the violation was made known. Few of us would want our own transgressions splashed across the media. Nonetheless, it has provoked needed national discussion about honor, virtue, and integrity.

BYU Quarterback Steve Young and Coach LaVell Edwards have come forward to support the University. Another star player said, "It's just hard for me to express just how immensely proud I am of my university." By all appearances, the player himself has shown nothing but honor and commitment to the code he signed onto. He has not publicly complained or offered excuses. He has apologized to his team for letting them down.

There is an incredible amount of mussar in this story. Here is an institution that chose to stand for their principles with millions of dollars in additional revenue on the line currently, to say nothing of future recruiting. Here is an institution that expects the same of all of it's attendees, regardless of their status.

I want to conclude this post with this quote from a former BYU athlete because I might want to refer back to it the next time I blog about commitment!: "Better that it happens at 20, rather than 50, with four kids. He'll probably be a better man, and that's ultimately what BYU is about, building leaders, building men. If that means missing out a chance at the Final Four, well, that's what happens."



20 comments:

Miami Al said...

There is something VERY RIGHT with how the LDS Church and its institutions conduct themselves. I haven't known a lot of Mormons, but the ones that I have known have all been honest, upstanding, and virtuous individuals. Most were relatively consistent about not drinking, some would if only one was around, etc.

I'm sure in Salt Lake City you could find all kinda of Mormons, but on the east coast, only positive experiences. The kids coming back from their missions are a sight to behold, just beaming and filled with piety.

I was talking to a business contact about his mission, he said that after 3 or 4 months without any of the trappings of modern life, you start to ask yourself questions, and by the end, you realize that you really believe (his words, not mine).

I have no idea what their "drop out rate" or anything else is, and I'm sure there is a dark side to anything, but I have been VERY impressed with BYU through this, but not shocked at all.

JS said...

The part of your post about standing up for your principles when millions of dollars are at stake really got me thinking. There are several high profile criminals in our communities that were welcomed back into the community with open arms because they are large donors. Rabbis and congregants big and small called the DA's office and wrote letters to judge about how wonderful these people are and begging for clemency.

Millions of dollars on the line (if that), totally different reaction.

Arthur said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Arthur said...

There is a conference room in BYU in the Projects Department that has the 10 commandments if you will, of the Projects Department.
Number 3 if my memory serves is to remind everyone that the money that they use for their various undertakings comes from tithes and is therefore holy.
It is no wonder they dropped the basketball player, at BYU words have meaning

Dan said...

If an MO high school or YU decided to dismiss all students that admit to have engaged in sexual behaviors prohibited by the Torah (including touching and looking at inappropriate images and anything beyond that), I wonder how many here would be praising such policy....

I'm inclined to believe that the same people (bloggers and commenters) who are praising BYU and bashing rabbis would be writing posts and comment after comment about how we can't be so strict, how such policies will destroy our youth, how we must accept them as they are...

Ah, the level of hypocrisy is just astounding...

JS said...

Dan,

Why hypocrisy? I'd support a yeshiva (elementary, high school, or university) that wished to implement such a policy. I'd also support a shul that only allowed people to daven there and become members if they agreed to certain modes of behavior (be they dress, showing up on time for minyan, not talking in shul, etc). I actually think it's a really good idea.

Miami Al said...

Dan,

Not a single person has commented on BYU's policy regarding sexual behavior.

Every positive comment has been on consistency and standing by their values.

Whether the violation was sexual, financial, or ritual, there was an enforcement of their policy, even though it was not in the University's short term interest.

Anonymous said...

Dan, I don't know why you're worrying about the MO. Surely you're not so naive that you don't realize that things go on in RW boys' high school dorms, for example?

Orthonomics said...

Dan, you won't find me bashing a school that expels students/families who don't live up to a SIGNED contract for which they are educated about so long as all those bound by the contract are treated EQUITABLY.

You are setting up a straw man here. There is no MO high school or Jewish University that I know of that asks its students to sign an honor code that they will uphold shomer negiah with the consequence of expulsion.

The honor code is taken seriously and even sportswriters who likely don't agree with each and every commitment in the honor code are complimenting BYU for holding their student-athletes to their commitments.

Anonymous said...

For those of you who want to expel highschool students who don't live up to expecations, there is a big difference between a college student who chose a particular university (I don't follow college basketball, but if was a star player, he probably could have gotten scholarships at lots of schools that coddle their athletes and let them get away with almost anything, but he chose BYU) and high school students who generally have no choice (or only a little input) on where they go to school. High school age kids should not be pushed away, but should be taught, including taught how to learn from mistakes).

Miami Al said...

Anon 10:58,

My private high school had an honor code.

Violators were expelled.

I still remember signing it on every major assignment being turned it, and the sign on the front of the room.

Children should learn from those mistakes. One way they learn is consequences. One of the consequences of violated the honor code was potential expulsion, that meant off to public school with you.

Then again, the school considered it a privilege to attend there, and not an obligation for the school to admit everyone that wanted to go.

A Muppet said...

What's missing from this was that it appears the violation involved getting his girlfriend pregnant. I'd be shocked if BYU enforced its honor code when violations are less obvious (and from what I've seen, it appears they don't.) He put the university in an embarrassing situation, and they responded in the only way they could. (I also doubt they'll lose any money from this) You can credit BYU for being one of few schools who would find public confirmation that their students engage in premarital sex to be embarrassing, but the reaction really was their only choice.

Anonymous said...

I think that every other decent college would do what BYU did if one of their central rules like cheating on an exam was broken. Premarital sex just isn't an issue for most colleges and universities like it is for the religious schools, so at most schools that wouldn't be a reason for kicking out an athlete.

Orthonomics said...

Pregnancy is only speculation. Knowing some Mormons, I could speculate that a quick marriage might have kept him in good standing. Much of the student body marries during school, and if you look up their team rosters, athletes are no exception.

Orthonomics said...

Anonymous- I think you are sorely mistaken about cheating. Or even assault. Or even rape. Sorry. Sports is big business, which makes the story newsworthy even if it involved another offense.

Dave said...

Criminal behavior might (*might*) get you a one game suspension at most major Universities if you are a sports star.

If they are chasing a National Title, even that is in doubt.

Cheating? Please.

A Muppet said...

Marriage might have worked (there would still be the problem of an obvious and public honor code violation), but he'd have needed to want to get married. Also the fact that lots of people in BYU get married, I imagine, has a lot to do with the fact that, aside from being more religious than the general college student population, many BYU students have gone on missions and are older than the average college student. (This is especially true about their athletes.) Brandon Davies has not, at least yet.

Bob Miller said...

Religious parents (that includes us, too!) like the idea that their children enrolled in schools with dorms live under appropriate supervision and codes of behavior. The lack of these makes a school unattractive to such parents.

Anonymous said...

In these posts, it might be better to emphasize postive experiences in our own schools. When you call attention to a non-Jewish instituion like, in my opinion, it unfairly calls attention to stereotypically negative aspects of Yeshivot.

Miami Al said...

I think one of the best lessons from BYU is that when running an organization, prudent finances matter, a LOT.

If BYU was looking at their budget saying, if we make the Final Four, we'll make millions and be fine, but if we don't, we're going to have to shutter 3 departments next year, BYU would have to seriously consider a cover up strategy (wouldn't have been hard, charge the student, string out his judicial process for 2 months, basketball season is over).

BYU sits on a large endowment, runs itself cautiously, and is led by people that consider themselves on a holy mission.

Spending less than you bring in and building an endowment isn't just good economics, it's good policy. Running in the red means that EVERY donor can hold you up. Running in the black means you control your own destiny.