Trip to Harry Potter theme park among the reasons BYU basketball must vacate 47 wins

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where dreams … and college basketball scandals are made. (Getty Images)
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where dreams … and college basketball scandals are made. (Getty Images)

The NCAA announced Friday that BYU basketball would receive multiple penalties after determining that an unnamed student-athlete, reported to be guard Nick Emery, received a litany of improper benefits from boosters.

Among the penalties BYU faces is the vacation of game results in which Emery participated, which comes out to 47 wins between the 2015-16 and 2016-17 season.

College basketball programs receiving penalties due to booster shenanigans is a tale as old as the NCAA, but this one comes with a distinctly Provo flavor. The reason why: Emery allegedly received some of the most BYU gifts imaginable.

The improper benefits Nick Emery reportedly received

Between the NCAA’s release and a report from the Salt Lake Tribune last year, here are some of the gifts Emery reportedly received:

  • Free golf outings

  • Free meals at a country club

  • Use of a Volkswagon Jetta

  • Tickets to U2 concerts in Los Angeles and Toronto, which were also opened by The Lumineers

  • A trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

In total, the NCAA determined Emery received more than $12,000 in gifts.

Many of those gifts were reportedly provided by Brandon Tyndall, a travel company executive and member of the Cougar Club, BYU’s booster organiation. Emery posted photos of himself with Tyndall during many of those trips on Snapchat and Instagram.

Who is Nick Emery?

Until now, Emery’s primary claim to fame was the time he was ejected from a game during his freshman year against rival Utah for punching an opposing player in the face. Utah’s dramatic reaction to the punch was to try to halt future games against BYU, but the Utes ultimately backed off.

Emery himself was disciplined with a suspension for BYU’s following game, a win against Weber State which is incidentally the only win BYU won’t have to vacate from its two seasons with Emery.

Nick Emery has had quite the colorful career since enrolling at BYU. (AP Photo)
Nick Emery has had quite the colorful career since enrolling at BYU. (AP Photo)

On the court, Emery was a key contributor to BYU. A four-star point guard in the Class of 2013 according to Rivals, Emery joined the team in 2015 after his two-year Mormon mission and contributed 14.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game across his freshman and sophomore seasons.

Emery was sidelined once the NCAA began investigating him and Tyndall before his junior year in 2017. He later withdrew from the university, citing difficulties from his divorce, but was reinstated for the 2018-19 season while receiving a nine-game suspension.

BYU’s response to NCAA sanctions

BYU harshly condemned the NCAA’s decision in a statement released Friday and announced plans to appeal.

The full statement:

“We are disappointed with the decision announced today by the NCAA Committee on Infractions (COI). The COI review is the result of a BYU self-report to the NCAA. From the beginning, BYU has considered the possible infractions a serious matter, and we have cooperated in every way with the NCAA review. There was no institutional knowledge of or involvement in the infractions. In fact, the NCAA found that Coach Rose promotes an atmosphere of compliance and monitors the program.

“The vacation-of-records penalty is extremely harsh and unprecedented given the details of the case. For more than two decades, the NCAA has not required an institution to vacate games in similar cases where the COI found there was no institutional knowledge of or involvement in the violation by either the coaching staff or other university personnel. In fact, this sanction includes the most severe vacation-of-record penalty ever imposed in the history of NCAA Division I basketball for infractions that included no institutional knowledge or involvement. In addition, in the case most similar to this situation, appropriate penalties were imposed, but no wins were vacated. BYU believes the vacation-of-records penalty is unfair and not consistent with recent NCAA precedent. The university plans to appeal the decision.”

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