Provo • Brigham Young University and the NCAA are investigating whether a booster paid for travel to concerts and an amusement park for men’s basketball player Nick Emery and gave him use of a new car, documents and interviews show.
The university issued statements Thursday saying it contacted the NCAA “after receiving information.”
“BYU is in the process of working with the NCAA regarding issues related to Nick Emery,” the university said in a statement sent Thursday to The Salt Lake Tribune.
Student-athletes are prohibited from receiving money, loans or other benefits from boosters, according to NCAA rules. Teams can be penalized even if the coaches didn’t know what was occurring. Violations can result in sanctions such as probation, loss of scholarships or, if the violations happened during the season, the forfeiture of wins.
Neither Emery nor members of his family returned messages seeking comment Thursday.
Emery, 23, played Wednesday night in an intrasquad exhibition in Provo.
BYU has hired a law firm with expertise in NCAA infractions to conduct the investigation. The school has not disclosed what has been found.
The investigation has included a review of financial records and social-media posts. The Tribune has obtained some of those records.
The car Emery has been driving has the same vehicle identification number as one leased by Brandon Tyndall, an executive at the Tyndall family’s travel company, Fun For Less Tours, and a member of the Cougar Club, BYU’s booster organization.
There are also social media posts showing Emery traveling with Tyndall to Toronto and Southern California.
In an interview Thursday, Tyndall said he and Emery have done nothing wrong.
“Every single item, he has paid,” Tyndall said. “Everything has been billed. There has been absolutely nothing given to him. We’re friends.”
The NCAA can make exceptions if a booster had a relationship with and provided benefits to the student-athlete before he or she enrolled. Tyndall declined to say how long he has known Emery.
Tyndall said there is documentation of Emery paying for the travel, and it has all been given to the NCAA.
“In my opinion, he will be cleared,” Tyndall said.
Tyndall said he is a member of the Cougar Club, but “not an active one.”
“I do it more for the seats,” Tyndall said.
Emery is a junior guard. He was a team captain and starter last season. He also played on a Lone Peak High School team that was named national champions in 2013, and was The Tribune’s 5A boys’ basketball MVP that year. As a junior in high school, Emery committed to BYU, where his older brother, Jackson Emery, played basketball in 2005-2006 and then from 2008 through 2011.
Emery gained national attention again when he punched University of Utah player Brandon Taylor in a 2015 game. Emery told The Tribune earlier this month that he has apologized to Taylor and was looking forward to a good 2017-2018 season.
The team’s first regular-season game is Nov. 11 at home against Mississippi Valley State.
Tyndall and Emery appear to be linked by a 2017 Volkswagen Jetta. When the Jetta was registered June 22, the lessee was listed as Tyndall, according to the Utah Division of Motor Vehicles. On Aug. 23, the title was transferred to Emery’s parents, Derek and Patricia Emery, according to division records.
On Oct. 17, as the men’s basketball team practiced at the Marriott Center Annex, a Tribune reporter in the parking lot found a Jetta with the same VIN as the one that had been registered to Tyndall. After practice, Emery walked to the Jetta. Emery stopped the car to talk to BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe before driving away in it.
A review of documents and records outlines Emery’s and Tyndall’s travels together:
• In Snapchat videos from May 20 or 21, Emery, his friend Alex Hall and Tyndall are seen at Universal Studios Hollywood. In one video, Emery and Hall are seen at what they said was a concert by U2 and the folk rock band The Lumineers. The bands played shows on those dates at the Rose Bowl. There’s also an Instagram photo of Emery, Hall and Tyndall at Wizarding World of Harry Potter that was posted May 25.
• In one photo, posted to Emery’s Instagram account and dated June 23, Emery, Hall and Tyndall posed together in a dimly lit venue. The location tag on the photo said it was taken at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. U2 performed there that night.
Tyndall spoke to The Tribune by telephone for 8½ minutes Thursday. He answered some questions about the travel expenses, but declined to say when Emery paid or agreed to pay those bills. Tyndall said he does not own a Jetta but otherwise declined to answer any questions about the car.
Tyndall, 40, received a bachelor’s degree in management from BYU in December 2001.
It’s unclear when BYU was informed of a potential issue with Emery and Tyndall. BYU has retained Kyle Skillman, a lawyer with the firm Bond, Schoeneck & King PLLC. It has offices in New York, Florida and Kansas and has a practice in representing universities suspected of NCAA infractions.
Skillman responded to an email Thursday. He confirmed BYU is his client, but he declined to answer questions.
Hall did not return messages seeking comment.