Police clear players involved of wrongdoing

Updated: February 23, 2004, 10:01 PM ET
Associated Press

PROVO, Utah -- The case of several Brigham Young football players accused of violating the Mormon school's strict honor code at a party where sex and alcohol were involved could be resolved as soon as next week, a school spokeswoman said.

The players were cleared of any criminal wrongdoing by Provo police, but alcohol and premarital or extramarital sex are in violation of the honor code, which the students pledge to follow.

"We do not want students to come to BYU and be surprised," spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said Monday. "We want them to know right from the beginning this is what BYU is about."

The private school is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the student body in the fall was 98 percent Mormon. All students are required to live by a strict moral code. Violating the honor code could lead to punishment ranging from counseling to expulsion.

Because the current case is still under review, the school is limited in what it can release, Jenkins said.

Football coach Gary Crowton declined comment.

The Salt Lake Tribune, which did not cite its sources, reported Saturday that four players had been kicked off the team for violating the honor code at the mid-January party.

Another Saturday story, published in the Deseret Morning News, said at least five BYU football players would be disciplined.

The university began investigating after a woman claimed to have been raped by several football players at the party.

The woman later told police the sex was consensual, but she said she was raped because she was embarrassed and did not want to get in trouble for violating the honor code.

The house party took place on a weekend when high school football recruits were visiting the campus. Young recruits are often assigned to a current player whose job is to show them around and entertain them.

Reynaldo Brathwaite, BYU's leading rusher, told The Daily Herald of Provo for a story on Sunday that he has not been kicked off the team. In its story, the Tribune said Brathwaite was among the four to be booted from the team.

"It's untrue," Brathwaite told the Daily Herald. "I am still in school. I have not been kicked off the team."

Efforts by the AP to reach Brathwaite on Monday were unsuccessful.

According to university protocol, after the honor code office completes an investigation, students have five days to appeal any decision. The university can release the name of the student and confirm any disciplinary action only if the student signs a waiver releasing such information.

The school could confirm or deny information in certain exceptions, such as if the name of a student became public record or if the student approached the media themselves, school officials said.

The honor board review is being done as school official in a neighboring state conducts its own investigation into sexual misconduct by football players. Seven women have accused University of Colorado football players of rape since 1997, though no charges have been filed. Football coach Gary Barnett was placed on administrative leave last week.

Jenkins said the timing at Colorado has not affected the BYU matter.

"It is a rare occurrence to have an athlete (investigation)," she said. "It's just when it does happen, it becomes so very public that it may have the appearance of occurring more often because of the public nature."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press