Provo • Junior guard Nick Emery won’t play basketball for BYU until Dec. 5, the Cougars’ 10th game of the 2018-19 season, against Utah State.
BYU coach Dave Rose hopes the other part of the NCAA’s investigation into Emery receiving improper benefits that resulted in him being suspended the first nine games of the season has been completed at least a month before then.
During BYU men’s basketball media day Thursday at the BYU Broadcasting Building, Rose confirmed the “enforcement part” of the NCAA’s involvement is still pending. BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe acknowledged in August that the situation was not totally resolved after the school’s June announcement that Emery would have to sit nine games.
“We are still waiting to hear from [the NCAA],” Rose said. “I think that we are looking at … closure that should be some time right around the first of November when we start [playing games].”
The Cougars began practices last week and will open the season on Nov. 6 at Nevada, a trendy Final Four pick.
“Hopefully we will be able to get that behind us and be able to move forward,” Rose said, without discussing what the possible sanctions could entail.
Rose said the process was a “cumbersome situation” and noted that BYU did not appeal Emery’s punishment. The Salt Lake Tribune reported last fall that Emery received extra benefits from a booster, a violation of NCAA rules. He withdrew from school last November, citing the emotional effects of a recent divorce, and missed the entire 2017-18 season.
After the NCAA’s completion of a “review of the reinstatement request” for Emery in early June, “we all sat down and talked and felt like the best thing to do for Nick was to let him have the decision and then move forward,” Rose said. “The appeal process can go forever, as you know. It can take forever. … Everybody felt good about the fact that we would accept [the NCAA’s decision] and then put that behind Nick and let him know what he needed to do and not have him live in a state of confusion for any longer of a time.”
Emery was not present at Thursday’s media gathering and will not speak publicly until after his first game, a BYU basketball spokesperson said.
Rose said “it is great” to have Emery back practicing and the 6-foot-2 guard who has scored 1,032 points in his two seasons to date has been playing on the second team and scout team in scrimmages.
“He’s back to being that guy who is one of the first ones in and one of the last ones to leave, which is a great thing to see for him to feel really comfortable in there,” Rose said. “He’s extremely aggressive. He has grown up a lot, and he has a real competitive spirit for this game after not playing for a year and wondering if he would play again.”
Rose welcomes back 10 returning players with varsity experience, including eight juniors and seniors, after not having a senior last year.
“The excitement for this season just stems from the history of our program,” Rose said. “Our best teams have been when we have had very good and experienced players in our program, seniors and juniors, with really talented young sophomores and freshmen. That’s the mix of our roster this year.”
Newcomers include returned missionaries Gavin Baxter, Kolby Lee and Connor Harding and Taylor Maughan, a walk-on from Fullerton, Calif., who played at BYU-Hawaii before that school dropped intercollegiate athletics.
Rose said the non-conference schedule that includes Nevada, Houston, Utah, UNLV, San Diego State and Mississippi State “has been put together to help us qualify for the NCAA Tournament if we can actually get the wins that we need from that schedule.”
Expectations haven’t changed although the Cougars have missed the Big Dance for three straight years, he said.
“Our expectations are to win, and we believe that we can win every game we play. It hasn’t happened yet. I hope that there is a season that is magical like that. I also believe we can win a conference championship, a conference tournament championship, and get to the NCAA Tournament and advance.”
BYU Basketball — Key Early Dates
Oct. 19 — Cougar Tipoff intrasquad game at Marriott Center, 7 p.m.
Oct. 24 — Exhibition opener vs. Saint Martin’s at Marriott Center, TBA
Nov. 1 — Exhibition game vs. Westminster at Marriott Center, TBA
Nov. 6 — Season opener at Nevada