NCAA receives discrimination complaint against Brigham Young University

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NCAA receives discrimination complaint against Brigham Young University

20 October 2016 — Today, FreeBYU obtained confirmation that the NCAA received its complaint detailing the religious discrimination BYU imposes on student athletes through enforcement of its Honor Code.

Background on BYU’s Honor Code

BYU updated its Honor Code nearly a year ago on November 9, 2015. Notably, the update deemed that “observing the standards of the Honor Code” is a sufficient reason to grant “applications for exception” to the ecclesiastical endorsement requirement. (Students must meet the ecclesiastical endorsement requirement to be in good Honor Code standing. Unless granted an exception, students without an ecclesiastical endorsement are not allowed to enroll in or attend classes, work on campus, graduate, or reside in BYU approved housing).

This means that if, for example, an LDS student stops practicing the LDS faith but continues to observe the standards of the Honor Code (as do the hundreds of other non-LDS students on campus such as Muslims, Baptists, and Catholics), she should be allowed to retain her good Honor Code standing if she completes the required application.

Examples of Religious Discrimination at BYU

BYU’s Honor Code enforcement in the year since the change, however, has been inconsistent with the update. FreeBYU has learned of multiple instances where the Dean of Students did not respond to student applications for exception, and where students were discouraged from applying. One student’s bishop reported attending a training about the exception where the bishop was told that exceptions are “rarely if ever” granted.

The NCAA’s Role in Inclusion and Diversity at BYU

The NCAA has taken a strong and public stance against discrimination, including religious discrimination, and has demonstrated strong commitment to diversity and inclusion. BYU’s continued practice of imposing eviction, termination, and expulsion on LDS student athletes who express a faith change (such as doubts about or disaffiliation from the LDS Church) is inconsistent with the NCAA’s inclusion statement and publications from its Office of Inclusion.

FreeBYU’s Position

FreeBYU applauds the NCAA’s demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusion. Our complaint to the NCAA documents BYU’s discriminatory policies and practices, and asks that the NCAA take action to require that BYU comply with the NCAA’s published inclusion policy.

FreeBYU welcomes the modifications BYU made to the Honor Code in November 2015, but believes the changes do not go far enough. By default, those who leave the LDS faith are still subject to expulsion, eviction, and termination. Therefore, FreeBYU calls upon BYU to:

  • Honor the LDS Church’s 11th Article of Faith, which “allow[s] all men… [to] worship how, where, or what they may.”
  • Reform the Honor Code further by removing the stated prohibition on LDS disaffiliation, and by affirmatively stating that one’s religious affiliation is not an Honor Code issue: students are free to believe and worship according to the dictates of their own consciences without risking expulsion, termination, and eviction.

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