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Provo • Discipline for students who run afoul of Brigham Young University's unique honor code is applied equally and fairly, regardless of whether it involves a star athlete or an English major, school spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said Thursday.
Appearing at a news conference in the Marriott Center designed to explain the honor code to the national media inquiries that have flooded into the school since star basketball player Brandon Davies was dismissed from the team, Jenkins outlined the importance of the code of conduct to the school owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"It is something we don't wink at," she said.
Athletics director Tom Holmoe and basketball coach Dave Rose also answered questions, mostly from local reporters, about the Davies situation and the athletic department's role in honor code reviews and discipline.
"If it is a student-athlete [under question], I am always going to be involved," Holmoe said.
The officials and coach acknowledged that a perfect storm of events the basketball team's No. 3 national ranking, Davies' status as a key member of the team, the presence of national player of the year candidate Jimmer Fredette and BYU's consideration (until Wednesday's loss to New Mexico) as a possible No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament converged to make this easily the most high-profile honor code case in school history, at least on a national level.
Jenkins defended the school's policy of publicly acknowledging honor code violations and/or reviews when asked about specific students and violations, saying "we have found it best to just work directly and honestly and openly in those situations given all the speculation and rumors that circulate. ... The media doesn't just go on fishing expeditions and give us a long list [of names] when they ask," she said.
A former college and professional athlete himself, Holmoe responded to a question about the enormous national publicity being unfair to Davies by saying top-flight athletes are public figures and therefore "under way more scrutiny."
The school issued a news release Tuesday night acknowledging that Davies would not be allowed to represent BYU for the remainder of the season in response to media inquiries, Jenkins said, noting that Davies remains a student at BYU while his case is under review, a review that has no specific timetable.
School officials don't make public specific violations, Jenkins said, just that there was a violation in instances where there is "high media attention."
However, Holmoe shed some light on Davies' situation, saying the sophomore center went first to Holmoe and Rose "seeking our direction and counsel."
"There was a serious violation of which we were made aware," Holmoe said noting that the first thing he and the coach did was "put our arms around him, console him."
The situation was then made known to the honor code office. The next day, as rumors swirled, the school made the announcement.
"It is common in these situations where people [around the country] won't understand," said Holmoe, a former BYU and San Francisco 49ers player who was also head football coach at Cal for a short stint. "This is something for us. We live this. This is who we are. ... People across the country might think this is foreign. They are shocked and surprised. But we deal with this quite often."
Holmoe added that while there are times he advocates on behalf of a student-athlete being reviewed by the honor code office, "We won't relax the honor code for a situation just because it involves a high-profile athlete."
Rose reiterated a statement made after Wednesday's game that he expects Davies to some day play basketball again for the Cougars.
"His heart is in the right place," the coach said.
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