Utah versus BYU is a game that happens every year in college basketball. These two in-state rivals playing each other have become a staple in the state of Utah and something most look forward to there. No matter the records or expectations, both teams come out fighting tooth and nail with each other until the finish. And the result of all that competitiveness usually means a highly emotional, very competitive game. Well, this most recent one was controlled by the home team, the Utah Runnin’ Utes. They were up 51-28 at halftime and they hung on for an eight-point win. But the win for Utah did not come without an ugly scene. With 1:48 seconds left in the game and Utah leading by 19, BYU put up a shot. While the shot was going up, Utah senior guard Brandon Taylor was chasing around BYU freshman guard Nick Emery. When both got on the baseline, Emery appeared to punch Taylor, knocking him down. And according to Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak, Emery taunted Taylor when he gave him the punch, telling him to “Stay on the ground.” Emery was immediately ejected from the game and it was announced that he would have to serve a one-game suspension. Emery eventually apologized, saying the emotion of the game got the best of him. But is the one-game suspension really enough?
Check out the video of this incident if you have not already:
Notice the deliberate swing that Emery delivers to Taylor. Also notice that after he does that, his head is bent over mouthing something to Taylor. Of course players are going to talk trash, but this incident crosses the line. In no way should he have just been suspended only one game. In fact, he got off light if you ask me. College basketball may have their own way of handling these types of incidents, but they are obviously dropping the ball on this one. If this incident happened in a bar instead of on a basketball court, the outcome would be just a little different. First thing is there would probably be no way that Emery would be bold enough to do what he did when no one was around him. On the court, you have referees and other players to shelter you from a fight. In a bar, there is some security, but not the level of a basketball court. Another thing that would be different is Emery would have been arrested if this happened outside the court. He essentially assaulted Taylor. If Taylor would have broken a bone, there would even be a case for him to sue Emery. But since there was not, it’s ok? Honestly, he is very lucky this happened on the court instead of off it somewhere. He should be in jail for assault.
Emery’s apology seemed like a pre-emptive strike towards a potential suspension coming. If he did or did not have an effect on what happened, we don’t know. But the ball now falls in the hands of the BYU athletic department. If they are ok with him only being suspended for a game, then we have an issue. In no way should he be playing that quickly. That one game serves not one purpose at all, especially at the beginning of the season. To really make him understand, they need to step in and sit him out more than just the one game. An appropriate suspension would be at least five games. At that point, he would understand the impact his actions have on things. And he would also understand that his actions would not be tolerated. One game is almost the equivalent of a slap on the wrist. And that further ensures that Emery will not feel the sting of what he did and learn from it. Ethics are something that BYU stands for. Being a private university, they once suspended basketball player Brandon Davies for the rest of the season for admitting to having premarital sex, which was against their school code of conduct. But where are their ethics when handling Emery’s situation? It seems like they conveniently forgot about them in his circumstance. He did something that did not represent their school at all and shone an embarrassing light on them. Yet after one game, he returns as if nothing happened.
Emery may never have an incident like this happen in his life. But what if he takes this slap on the wrist and does something worse the next time around? At that point, will BYU and the NCAA just going to let him slide again? Maybe they will feel guilty for not sending a resounding message the first time and try to crack down hard on the second try. The scary part about it is that he could get hurt someone worse than what happened to Brandon Taylor. There are a multitude of things that should have potentially gotten considered when placing the suspension on him. But at this point, it is what it is. Emery will be back on the court soon and we will have to keep an eye open for when or if he strikes again.