LeGarrette Blount's 2009 Punch Helps BYU in 2010

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I am not going to get into the details. If you are here, then you are probably well versed in the Harvey Unga situation. If not, here is a link to get you started, and here is a link to what I wrote previously. You can also google Harvey Unga and get filled in pretty quickly.

I think that the only thing stopping Unga from being readmitted and playing in 2010 will be getting his ecclesiastical endorsement. As I understand it, his readmission to BYU is contingent on the Dean of Student allowing him to return to finish his degree without going through the normal readmission process (Unga withdrew in April, which is after the deadline for new student applications for Fall semester). The Dean of Students will not take into account any Honor Code indiscretion. With that being the case, I believe that the Dean of Students is aware of that readmitting Unga in the fall could create a negative perception of a double standard at BYU. However, I don't think BYU cares much about the small contingent of people who will use this as another bullet in their anti-BYU/anti-Mormon arsenal.

BYU sees the big picture, and has for a long time. Doctrine and Covenants 121 teaches that authoritative figures should use love and kindness, not unrighteous dominion. That is the principle behind allowing former players who broke the honor code to return to BYU and to the football team. I am referring to players who did not self report their honor code violations, but were forced through an honor code investigation to confess their shortcoming and pay the penalty. Harvey Unga is already one step ahead of them. He voluntarily confessed his mistake and withdrew from BYU.

While the behavior and conduct of all athletes is being punished and scrutinized more frequently, the public perception of what is appropriate discipline is changing. To see how the public perception is changing to be more in accordance with D&C 121 and why Harvey Unga in BYU blue this fall is not a great threat to BYU's reputation, we have to look no further than LeGarrette Blount and Michael Vick.

Blount is the former Oregon running back who punched a Boise State player at the end of their game September 3, 2009. Oregon Head Coach Chip Kelly promptly suspended Blount for the rest of the season. Kelly later shortened that sentence and Blount returned to the team November 9. Kelly and Oregon saw that Blount had learned his lesson and continuing his suspension was excessive.

Michael Vick's situation is well known. I will not rehash it here, except to point out that the time he spent in prision was much shorter than it could have been and that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could have exacted a heavy suspension after Vick was released from prison. The way it turned out, Vick was suspended for just two games. While the initial public outrage to what Vick did was huge, by the time he took the field most people supported his return. Former Indianapolis Colts head coach, and mentor to Michael Vick, Tony Dungy stated on the Dan Patrick Show that 95% of the feedback he had received on Michael Vick was positive.

Discipline is supposed to develop individuals not damage and destroy them. Excessive discipline can have a negative effect, and leave an outcome that is the opposite of what was intended. The sports world is realizing this through LeGarrette Blount, Michael Vick, and now, hopefully, Harvey Unga.

I will say it again. If Unga is able to get an ecclesiastical endorsement signed for Fall semester 2010, BYU should readmit him. That ecclesiastical endosement signifies that the one who is qualified to judge in this situation has decided that Unga has learned his lesson, has paid his price, and that any additional punishment is unnecessary.

I am not saying that BYU should look to Oregon or the NFL for guidance on how to handle this issue. If it isn't clear enough above, Oregon and the NFL are following the example of BYU that has long been ridiculed by some, but others are starting to follow more and more. BYU's primary goal is to help its students grow in all facets of life. BYU wants to send students out into the world who will change the world and make it a better place. Harvey Unga has a better chance to do both of these things if BYU readmits him so he can finish his degree and play out his eligibility.


  1. I agree, if Unga can get readmitted to the school for Fall 2010, then he should be able to play the 2010 season. We shouldn't forget the purpose of punishment is to help discipline and teach valuable life lessons, NOT to simply condemn. If some one has already learned their lesson, then any punishment beyond that is excessive and unnecessary.

  2. Glad to see you agree, Neal. The point is that this is something that happened off the field. I am not advocating the Bishop to soften the repentance process, but only saying that because Unga withdrew, rather than wait for someone to confront him, the school should be willing to work with him and should not stand in his way if the Bishop has signified that the repentance process is complete.


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