BYU star forward Yoeli Childs has been suspended nine games for this upcoming season because the NCAA determined that the player had hired an agent before filing the proper paperwork with the association. The announcement came on Friday and Childs addressed a group of local media members in Provo, Utah about the situation
Per the Deseret News:
“I believe in being honest and open about the things that you do. There was some confusion with this new process. I made decisions that caused an outcome that none of us like,” Childs said Friday. “I want everyone to know that my intent was never to do something wrong. I was trying to do the right things. I was trying to do things the right way. … When I met with the coaching staff and we found out that there were missteps, we went back and tried to correct everything. I’m so grateful to be part of a university that stands for those same values. This is a university that believes in honesty, believes in integrity and believes in doing the right thing, even when it’s hard. I’m super disappointed that I’m not going to be able to play in these nine games with my guys. It hurts so bad.”
After a season where he averaged 21.2 points and 9.7 rebounds per game, and was named to his second consecutive All-West Coast Conference first team, Childs declared for the 2019 NBA Draft. The “new process” he talks about in the quote refers to expanded rules the NCAA adopted for the 2018-19 season that allowed players who hired an agent and declared for the draft to still return to their schools if they still have academic eligibility. Childs took advantage of this change and decided to hire an agent after declaring, but then announced in late May that he would instead be returning to BYU for his senior season.
Jeff Call of the Deseret News reported that problems arose because Childs’s decision to sign an agent came during a period of transition at BYU following the retirement of coach Dave Rose—the implication being there wasn’t a knowledgable mentor around to help the athlete with this kind of stuff. According to Call’s report, wasn’t until the player spoke with new coach Mark Pope that those problems were actually discovered.
“The program was without a head coach for a while and at the same time, Yoeli’s making these huge, life-changing decisions with brand-new rules. All those things come together,” Pope said. “There was some real confusion. What was so impressive to me with Yoeli was, Yoeli was forthcoming with everything.”
Included among those problems, according Jay Drew of the Salt Lake Tribune, were the qualifications of Childs’s agent which came under scrutiny. However, the relevant NCAA rules regarding that aren’t supposed to take effect until 2020, a point which BYU made sure to emphasize on Friday. The school worked with the NCAA to take care of these issues as quickly as possible, and even filed an appeal when this ruling was officially made a few months ago. It’s also worth noting that Childs paid back all expenses for travel and basketball training made at the time of his draft training with interest.
Childs will be allowed to participate in the program’s preseason tour in Italy, but will be guaranteed to miss the Maui Jim Maui Invitational in November. It’s not clear what other regular season games he’ll be missing out on because BYU’s schedule has not been finalized. To his credit, the player was pretty levelheaded about the whole situation when speaking to reporters on Friday, despite having every reason to still be upset about this nonsense.
“In March, we’re going to look back and be like, ‘You know what? Throughout all the adversity, we did it,’” Childs said. “In March, we’re going to look at each other as brothers and say, ‘We did something really hard and we made it happen.’ Everything I’ve said before, I believe. I refuse to not let this be a magical season. Nine games isn’t going to stop that. Nothing on this earth is going to stop that.”
Childs might not be the only Cougar who ends up missing games due to NCAA-related suspensions this coming year. The program is still waiting to hear back on its appeal of the one-year suspensions of Utah Valley transfers Wyatt Lowell and Richard Harward. If those fall through, BYU risks having just four front court players for their first nine games.
Thank God the NCAA’s bureaucratic nightmare was able to step in and preserve the amateurism that would have been lost with Childs’s decisions.