For the first nine games of the 2019-20 season, the BYU men’s basketball team will have one of the best practice players in the country.
In case you wanted to look at the latest bit of bad news for the Cougars as a “glass half full” situation.
Most BYU fans, though, are going to get pretty twisted about a nine-game suspension handed down by the NCAA because All-American candidate Yoeli Childs didn’t file his paperwork correctly when he hired an agent.
On Friday, BYU announced Childs would miss nearly a third of his senior season. Pope said when the decision came down a couple of days ago, Childs was in his office in tears in an emotional moment.
“I’m super disappointed that I’m not going to be able to play in these nine games with my guys,” Childs said. “It hurts so bad. But I know that we did the right thing in coming out with this. If they (the NCAA) said I couldn’t play the whole season I would come here and I would be the greatest practice player ever because I love this school and I love this team and I’d do anything for these guys. If it was one game, nine games, the whole season, I would be here with these guys and try to lead these guys as much as I can.”
Childs declared for the NBA draft in March but on May 29 opted to return for his senior year to play for the Cougars and new coach Mark Pope. Childs sat down with the coaching staff to determine the next steps to take and they discovered several of his previous actions were not in compliance with the new NCAA rules about declaring for the NBA draft, including allowing his agent to cover certain expenses while he was auditioning for NBA clubs. Pope worked to reinstate Childs’ eligibility with the NCAA and when those compliance issues were discovered, Childs paid back the expenses with interest.
But the NCAA wasn’t impressed, and an appeal resulted in no changes in the suspension.
“We are excited to have Yoeli Childs at BYU,” BYU Director of Athletics Tom Holmoe said in a written statement. “He chose to test the waters of turning professional and thought he was doing what was right to maintain his eligibility, which would allow him to return for his senior year. Amid the confusion of the NCAA allowing student athletes to sign with agents and still return to school, Yoeli was caught in the transition of a changing landscape. We are disappointed with the NCAA’s decision to withhold nine games of his senior season. Yoeli was honest and forthright throughout the reinstatement process. He clearly communicated his desire to return to BYU to graduate and compete with his teammates. Yoeli Childs is an outstanding student athlete with a bright future.”
Childs said despite the suspension, he doesn’t regret his decision to return for his senior season.
“I just want people to know that, as you guys know, I am a man of faith,” Childs said. “I’m someone that believes in integrity and that’s the most important thing to me. I believe in being honest and open with the things that you do.
“There was some confusion with this new process and I made some decisions that have caused an outcome that none of us like. I just want everyone to know that my intent was never to do something wrong. I was trying to do the right things going through this new process in the way I thought you were supposed to go through it. When I met with the coaching staff and we found out there had been some missteps we went back and tried to correct everything. I’m so grateful to be part of university that stands for those same values, a university that believes in honesty, that believes in integrity and believes in doing the right things even when it’s hard.”
The BYU men’s basketball schedule has not been released yet, though Pope said on Friday there was just one more contract to sign to complete it. It’s likely that Childs will miss the Maui Invitational in late November, where the Cougars open with UCLA.
As a junior, Childs averaged 21.2 points and 9.7 rebounds per game while earning first team All-West Coast Conference honors.
Childs will still be able to play with the Cougars when they travel to Italy on Friday 16. BYU will play four games in five nights while on their foreign tour.