BYU star running back Harvey Unga has voluntarily withdrawn from school because of an undisclosed honor code violation.
Women’s basketball player Keilani Moeaki, reportedly Unga’s girlfriend of three years, also has withdrawn from school.
Unga is the school’s all-time leading rusher with 3,455 yards. He led the Mountain West Conference in rushing last year in his third consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season. Unga actually flirted with leaving school for the NFL, but decided to return to help his team and his draft stock.
“I fully support Harvey and his decision regarding his personal situation,” BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said in a statement. “The possibility of not having Harvey on the field in the fall would certainly have an impact on our team, but my main concern right now is in supporting Harvey.”
Now, I’m not going to speculate on what happened here, but BYU’s honor code is very specific and very strict. According to the school’s Honor Code Office, each student must obey these policies:
Live a chaste and virtuous life
Obey the law and all campus policies
Use clean language
Abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee, and substance abuse
Participate regularly in church services
Observe the Dress and Grooming Standards (including no beards without a waiver)
Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code
The fact that Unga and Moeaki decided to withdraw together will create more than a few whispers, but the important thing to remember is that Unga voluntarily withdrew and that he could come back. Mendenhall seemed very supportive, and while there will likely be punishment levied by the school, maybe Unga’s decision to withdraw will gain some leniency should he decide to return.
As for the BYU backfield, there are several competent players to take Unga’s place, but it’s probably going to take a committee. Few (if any) runners in the Mountain West possess the speed, hard-hitting ability and versatility that Unga does. He was not only a threat as a runner, but also a passer. And he did have a legitimate shot at going to the NFL. It’s a shame that something like this might derail that opportunity.