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Police clear players involved of wrongdoing

2/23/2004 - BYU Cougars

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."