Athletes, Sex and March Madness

Last Updated Mar 7, 2011 3:11 PM EST

How many college athletes do you think are virgins?Climbing on "Y" behind Brigham Young University
Of course, that's an impossible question to answer, but it's a topic college basketball fans have been talking about since a star player at Brigham Young University got kicked off his team for premarital sex.

At the time of the dismissal last week, BYU's basketball team was ranked No. 3 in the nation and it's fans were excitedly talking about the prospects of a Final Four appearance during March Madness. Brigham Young, however, did something that schools with big-time sports departments rarely do -- it suspended a star player for breaking school rules.

Sex and College Athletes

The university kicked Brandon Davies off the team for breaking its honor code. It didn't take long before the media found out that Davies had acknowledged that he had sex with his girlfriend.

After the suspension, BYU lost a game that normally would have been easily winnable and ended up tying its conference with its arch rival San Diego State. I live in San Diego and I can tell you that fans here were delirious by the BYU basketball suspension and couldn't believe their good luck.

I greatly respect BYU for enforcing its honor code that also includes prohibitions against such things as profanity, gambling, revealing clothing, alcohol, coffee and tea. You might not think sleeping with a girlfriend in college is immoral anymore than drinking a Diet Coke for lunch, but the folks at BYU do and that's all that matters.

As my favorite sports columnist at the San Diego Union-Tribune noted, "Too often, American universities choose expedience when they ought to be setting examples. Too often, pragmatism trumps principle."

College Sports and Crime

If schools spent more time protecting their core values no matter what the cost, there would be far less unsavory activities in the world of college sports. When I was reading the BYU coverage, I couldn't help thinking about a special report, released last week by CBS and Sport Illustrated, that revealed an alarming number of college football athletes in top programs who have been in trouble with the law.

No matter what happens to BYU during March Madness, the school is a winner.

Lynn O'Shaughnessy is author of The College Solution and she also writes a college blog for CBSMoneyWatch.
BYU image by arbyreed. CC 2.0.

More on CBS MoneyWatch:

Do College Athletes Have Time to Be Students?
63 Colleges With the Best Financial Aid