Provo • Just more than eight months after his dismissal from the top-five ranked BYU basketball team for violating the portion of the school's honor code that forbids premarital sex, junior center Brandon Davies talked publicly on Tuesday for the first time about the ordeal that drew national attention to himself and the institution owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In a surprise decision to break his silence now instead of after the Cougars' season opener Friday at Utah State, Davies told a group of about 10 reporters after BYU's practice that the suspension on Feb. 28 after the Cougars' nationally televised win over San Diego State and subsequent scrutiny has made him a "totally different person, but that's up to other people to decide. I can't really tell someone that I've changed. It is up to me to show that."
Davies said he was "definitely treated more than fair" by BYU officials and he harbors no bitterness or anger over the way the situation was handled.
"I am just happy to be back. It doesn't matter what I had to go through to get here," he said. "I am just glad to be here, back with my teammates and back here where I am supported and loved by so many. â¦ Just to be back here and be able to be part of this team again is a blessing to me."
Having been dismissed from the school last April after the Cougars made it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament without him on the court but allowed to sit on the bench and then readmitted in August, Davies declined to specify which steps he had to take to get back into the school and rejoin the team. The dismissal caused him to miss BYU's summer basketball trip to Greece.
"Those steps are over and done with. I am back. As far as I am concerned, I did it the right way. Those things don't need to be brought up," he said.
Having said during BYU's media day in October that he would talk to the media after the Cougars' first game, Davies said he decided to do it Tuesday because he has "more positive things to look forward to than what I have had to go through. It just feels better to actually have something good to talk about now, which is basketball and what we have to go through now as a team."
Davies, a Provo High product who is an all-West Coast Conference preseason team selection, described the past eight months as difficult and terrible at times, but not insurmountable, because of the support he received from school officials, coaches, teammates and family members.
"It has been hard on a lot of people, not just myself," he said. "I am lucky to be surrounded with people that love me and a great team and great family members and friends."
He said the response from community members and classmates has been "mostly positive," including the way BYU football fans reacted last month when they reserved their loudest applause for Davies when the team was introduced at halftime of a football game.
The entire situation "hurt not just me, but everyone around me," he said. "It is definitely something I will never forget about, and something I never want to do again. I will use that to drive me in all that I do today."
Davies said he never really considered transferring to another school. He said no other schools contacted him because he tried to make it as clear as he could that he wanted to stay at BYU and reward his teammates for standing behind him.
"It has definitely strengthened us," he said. "I think it is a bad thing, a terrible thing we all had to go through. They were willing to go through it with me and we pulled through together. That says a lot about their character and the way we are as a team."
Davies said he tried not to pay attention to the way his story blew up nationally, but realizes that it did. He said the experience "is still kind of tender," but that he's willing to "shine my light on it" and discuss it in the media and with others who are "going through what I had to go through."