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Team rules get BYU gridders to follow Code

SHARE Team rules get BYU gridders to follow Code

PROVO — Drinking, having premarital sex, doing drugs and shoplifting won't merely be against BYU's Honor Code this football season — they will be considered violations of team rules.

"For some reason, if you say it's a team rule instead of the Honor Code, they tend to follow it and take it more serious," said fullback Kalani Sitake. "So, we're emphasizing team rules."

The issue came up in a players-only meeting the day before fall football practice began.

"We met as a team," Sitake said. "We can't mess up. We can't afford to lose anybody, especially this year with our tough schedule.

"Every year, it seems we've lost somebody because of a violation with the Honor Code, but there has also been a lot of people here who are not members of the LDS Church . . . who have made it just fine," he said.

Athletic director Val Hale said team captains have been issued challenges to be the "first line of defense." When a guy breaks rules, teammates know," Hale said.

"It can affect the entire team. Captains should go to the guy and say 'Hey, you're gonna hurt yourself and the team if you don't stop,"' Hale said. "If the infraction continues, the team captain isn't going to be a snitch. But it wouldn't surprise me if it continued, it could lead to action taken as a team through coaches."

Hale said other schools have team rules, and, in many cases, the rules are strict and disobeying team rules leads to immediate action.

"We expect our guys to live it. If they have a problem with it, we're asking them to leave and save themselves, the team and their parents the heartache and embarrassment," Hale said. "This push is coming from the players. And it has to if it's going to work."

The most recent action taken against a BYU football player publicly involved sophomore cornerback Jernaro Gilford.

He and a friend were accused of breaking into an athletic department equipment room April 11 and taking T-shirts, a mesh bag, socks and $12 cash, for a total value of $117. Gilford faces a third-degree felony charge of burglary and a class B misdemeanor charge of theft.

BYU suspended Gilford from playing with the team this year. Now at his home in Los Angeles, Gilford is planning to re-enroll at BYU in January, according to assistant coach Barry Lamb.

"We'll miss him," Hoke said. "He had a very important role this year and he could really help us this season. We look forward to his return."