Provo • When he decided to return to BYU’s basketball team for his senior season late last May, star forward Yoeli Childs promised a “magical season” under new coach Mark Pope.
But the all-West Coast Conference player will not be a part of the Cougars’ first nine games.
Childs has been suspended from playing in those non-conference games — that will include the Maui Invitational and likely the showdown at Utah on Dec. 4 — because the NCAA determined that he was not in compliance with the new rules instituted during the 2018-19 season regulating how student-athletes can sign with an agent and maintain their remaining eligibility.
Childs apparently hired an agent before filing the proper paperwork with the NCAA.
The NCAA made the ruling a few months ago; BYU appealed, but learned Thursday that its appeal had been denied.
“There was some confusion with this new process, and I made decisions that have caused an outcome that none of us like,” Childs said Friday afternoon during a news conference that was originally called to discuss BYU’s trip to Italy next week. “I just want everyone to know that my intent was never to do something wrong.”
Last March, Childs declared for the 2019 NBA draft and signed with an agent while he explored his options, and agents were permitted to cover certain expenses for their clients during that time. One of the questions in dispute is whether Childs’ chosen agent was certified by the NCAA.
In its release, BYU notes that “agents in 2019 were not required to be certified by the NCAA as the Rice Commission required. Certification will be required in 2020.”
“There is never going to be a situation like this in the future, because the way these rules were changed, they are only for this year,” Childs said. “There are certain certifications and certain processes that will happen in the future. There is never going to be another case like this.”
Childs said he made the decision on May 29 to return to BYU knowing that the NCAA might not accept his plea for reinstatement. He decided to return anyway.
“Nine games wasn’t a number any of us were expecting, but that’s life,” Childs said. “I am not going to say this hasn’t been an extremely emotional process, because it has been. For the past day or so I have wrestled between being so mad and being accepting of what is happening.”
He said that even if the penalty had been one game or an entire season, he would have still returned to BYU for his final year.
“I refuse to not let this be a magical season,” he said. “Nine games isn’t going to stop that. Nothing on this earth is going to stop that, whether it is injuries or challenges outside of basketball. I refuse to let that happen.”
New BYU coach Mark Pope said that as the new coaching staff met with Childs in April and May and talked to him about his role if he were to return, they learned that there was a “timing issue” with his declaration for the draft and hiring of an agent.
“There was a lot of uncertainty and miscommunication,” Pope said. “And then Yoeli is making these life-changing decisions with brand new rules. … Certainly, I would echo [Athletic Director Tom Holmoe]’s comments that we are incredibly, incredibly disappointed [because] you are not going to find a young person anywhere who has tried so hard to do things exactly the right way knowing that there were going to be complications coming.”
Said Childs: “I was without a head coach [after Dave Rose retired] and I kind of thought I was doing the right things.”
In a statement that was part of the BYU release, Holmoe said Childs was “honest and forthright” throughout the process.
“He chose to test the waters of turning professional and thought he was doing what was right to maintain his eligibility, which would allow him to return for his senior year. Amid the confusion of the NCAA allowing student athletes to sign with agents and still return to school, Yoeli was caught in the transition of a changing landscape,” Holmoe said. “We are disappointed with the NCAA’s decision to withhold nine games of his senior season. Yoeli … clearly communicated his desire to return to BYU to graduate and compete with his teammates. Yoeli Childs is an outstanding student athlete with a bright future.”