The XX Factor

Sex and Domestic Violence in College Hoops

Earlier this week, the BYU forward Brandon Davies was dismissed from the basketball team for violating the school’s honor code. His reported transgression: having sex with his girlfriend . Whether you think the school made the right or wrong call-for what it’s worth, I vote wrong-BYU certainly isn’t following the crowd. Very few universities would be willing to boot a star player from an outstanding team ( BYU is ranked third in the country ) right before the NCAA Tournament.

Consider the case of Baylor’s LaceDarius Dunn. Last March, Dunn led the Bears basketball team to within one game of the Final Four . Six months later, he was charged with aggravated assault for allegedly breaking his girlfriend’s jaw. According to KWTX in Waco, Texas , LaCharlesla Edwards “told officers Dunn had hit her with a closed fist, ‘causing her extreme jaw pain.’ ” Edwards soon changed her story : “I am fine and my jaw is not broken as is being reported,” she said. On Thursday, a Waco grand jury declined to indict Dunn -not a surprising outcome considering that his girlfriend recanted.

As the legal process played out, Baylor’s priorities became clear. When the assault allegation first broke, Dunn was suspended from the team indefinitely. After a review by Baylor’s disciplinary committee, the senior guard sat out three meaningless November games ; according to a school press release, the suspension was for “a team rules violation.” After that brief hiatus, Dunn has returned to lead the Bears by scoring 19.7 points per game. When the grand jury declined to charge Dunn this week, his attorney Vik Deivanayagam expressed the player’s gratitude to “coach [Scott] Drew, the assistant coaches, and the entire athletic department along with Baylor University.”

Baylor isn’t your typical athletics factory. Like BYU, it is a private religious university. If you’re looking for conservative bona fides, recall that it was only in 1996 that the Baptist school ended its ban on dancing . You’d also think Baylor would be hyper-sensitive to alleged hoops-related malfeasance considering that, in 2003, a Bears basketball player murdered one of his teammates. (And that was just the beginning of that scandal .) In this case, though, Baylor pretty clearly placed the school’s athletic fortunes ahead of its supposed institutional values. Even so, the school is in danger of missing out on this NCAA Tournament if it doesn’t go on a late-season winning streak. I guess that’s some small form of justice: Despite Baylor’s best efforts, the school’s no-dancing policy might be back on this March.

Photograph of LaceDarius Dunn by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images.