Bryan Kehl plays linebacker for the NFL’s St. Louis Rams. But he remembers fondly his time as a student-athlete at BYU, which has become known for its Honor Code.
“The Honor Code is something that asks a lot of people, and people that have success living it will be people who want to,” he said (see video above). “It doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, red or brown – it doesn’t matter your ethnicity, and it doesn’t matter if you’re Mormon or non-Mormon.”
Kehl is one of many minority BYU athletic alumni who are speaking out in support of the Honor Code at a time when some have questioned how it is applied across races.
Curtis Brown, who arrived at BYU an African-American non-Mormon and left as the school’s all-time leading rusher, has similar feelings.
“The Honor Code has never had a race factor, it’s an integrity factor,” Brown said. “If there are people who make mistakes and want to get their life back on track, then they will work with you. Ultimately they want to put you in the best situation to succeed.”
Brian Logan, an African-American non-Mormon, recently completed his final season as a BYU cornerback and vocal team leader. He encouraged his cousin, also an African-American non-Mormon football player, to attend BYU after his departure.
“The amount of love and passion that I have for the university and the [football] program, I don’t think words can explain,” Logan told The Daily Universe . “I’ve had the best time of my life. This experience has really helped me and prepared me for the real world. If I could do it all over again, I would in a heartbeat.”
Brian McDonald, an African-American from southern California, came to BYU as a junior college transfer and non-Mormon to play football. He recalls the coach who recruited him sitting him down at his home and explaining the BYU Honor Code in detail, and he and his parents were impressed.
However, once at BYU, he self-admittedly felt a sense of entitlement as an athlete, and ended up dealing with Honor Code officials after he was cited for underage drinking (see video).
“I was dealt with fairly, and they handled the situation appropriately,” said McDonald, who later returned to good standing. “That taught me a great lesson, that I am accountable for my actions.”
Running back and Provo native Harvey Unga broke Brown’s all-time rushing record and then accepted the consequences of an Honor Code violation.
“I made the mistake. I am a grown up, I am a man now. I signed the Honor Code when I got here. I had a violation. . . It is what it is. For me to be bitter, that's absolutely not the case," Unga told the Salt Lake Tribune .
TheTribunereported, “He called himself a ‘Cougar at heart forever’ and said he still loves the university and the football program.”
The former athletes said university and athletic officials are clear and direct in letting recruits know what will be expected of them if they choose to attend BYU:
· Coaches and school officials review the Honor Code with every recruit.
· Since 2005, the university chaplain reviews the Honor Code with all non-Mormon student athletes before they enroll, and each year they are enrolled. (The university chaplain also works with non-Mormon students throughout their tenure at BYU and is available as their confidant in the same way a Mormon bishop would be to Mormon students.)
· Every year the athletic administration reviews the Honor Code with each team.
· Coaches carry out ongoing instruction with their student-athletes about the Honor Code.
“The Honor Code is not for everyone – a lot of people want a different college experience,” said Kehl. “If that’s the case, I wish them all the luck in the world to go somewhere else. But if you want to come to a place that’s focused on things of a higher nature, then BYU is the perfect place.”