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BYU will stop confirming honor code violations, athletic director says

Published February 25, 2014 4:03 pm

BYU sports •
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Provo • Brigham Young University will no longer acknowledge whether a student has been disciplined by its honor code office unless that student has announced that transgression publicly or if it is a matter of public record, director of athletics Tom Holmoe said Tuesday in a roundtable discussion with reporters who cover BYU sports.

Beyond those exceptions, "We won't discuss honor code violations anymore. So, don't ask," Holmoe said.

The new policy took effect Jan. 1, after several years of campus-wide discussion, and affects cases involving all students, not just student-athletes, administrators said. However, it was obviously triggered by the way the school handled the highly publicized suspension of star basketball player Brandon Davies in March of 2011 and the more recent handling of the suspension of star linebacker Spencer Hadley last fall.

Neither athlete broke any civil laws and neither publicly acknowledged his misdeeds via social media or the like, but BYU spokesperson Carri Jenkins confirmed at the time when contacted by news outlets that the students had run afoul of the honor code, which prohibits premarital sex, drinking alcohol, using illicit drugs and other actions.

"I didn't spearhead it, but I was involved [in the policy change]," Holmoe said. "I am just happy we are at where we are at right now. It is a good resolution to a number of different discussions."

Moving forward, Holmoe said, when a BYU coach suspends or dismisses a student-athlete, it will be up to the coach to decide whether he or she wants to discuss the reason for the discipline. Most times, the coach will say it was for a "violation of team rules" and leave it at that.

"That's pretty generic, and that's what I would like to see happen," Holmoe said.

Holmoe spent 45 minutes answering questions about a wide variety of BYU sports-related topics. A few highlights:

• Regarding last year's football season, when the Cougars went 8-5 against one of the better schedules in school history, Holmoe said the program "made some real nice strides" after entirely changing its offense and offensive coaching staff before the season.

He said the offense needs more balance and more emphasis on scoring in the red zone this coming year, and acknowledged the 2014 schedule released Monday is a "good schedule" but probably not as strong as last year's.

He said BYU is tied for fourth in the country in total football wins the past 40 years and is still a "name" program recognized around the country.

• Holmoe said independent BYU is close to reaching an agreement to play in a 2014 bowl game, but can't announce it yet because the contract hasn't been signed.

• Holmoe said the conference realignment era "has quieted down" right now but believes it will get rolling again. "I mean, everybody is going to have to have a [football] championship game. People are going to have to feel like they have an equal chance to get in [the new football playoff system]," he said.

• BYU's relationship with Notre Dame is still solid and Holmoe is having discussions with Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick about when the two schools can complete the six-game series they contracted in 2010 when BYU went independent. Holmoe said "it might be further out" than 2020 before the series is completed because Notre Dame entered into an agreement to play five ACC opponents a year.

• BYU's 10-year agreement with ESPN to allow the national cable television giant to broadcast most of its home football games is still strong, Holmoe said. "They are happy with how things are," he said.

• The athletic director said he realizes the need for a basketball practice facility on campus and that administrators "are doing things internally" right now to see that happen. But the hoped-for project does not have final approval from BYU's Board of Trustees. —

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O For more on various other BYU sports issues, go Jay Drew's BYU sports blog.

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