True freshman wide receiver Ryan Kessman is currently back in California. The former San Jacinto wide receiver, following a personal interview with head coach Bronco Mendenhall, elected to be released from his scholarship. This came after Ryan was suspended for violating team rules. David Angilau, Brannon Brooks, Ryan Love, Gary Nagy and G Pittman were also all suspended, and, according to a BYU press release, will be permitted to return to practice pending the completion of team-imposed requirements.
According to Ryan and his father Steve, Ryan was suspended from the team until January after admitting to drinking coffee, missing a curfew and missing a morning workout.
Ryan said he feels that he and the other players were questioned about possible violations because of an anonymous email stating that there were football players that were not in compliance with the honor code while at Vortex, a Salt Lake City dance club. He believes that the email came from a Vortex employee, and said that he could only remember one occasion during which all six suspended players were together at the same time outside of practice, and that was while they were at the club.
Ryan said he felt some animosity from the employee, and believes that the employee may have been upset because Ryan danced with a girl that was later seen associating with the employee. The girl may have been the employee's girlfriend or ex-girlfriend, Ryan said, and the employee may have sent the incriminating email in order to get back at Ryan and those he was with.
"Now is that confirmed, and do we know that, or is that an assumption?" asked Vortex owner Gary McFarland. "I've never even known anyone that worked for me that went to BYU until I just found out about that. I don't know if that has been confirmed or not. I've actually talked to [the employee in question] and he said he didn't know anything that was going on. But you know, that's his side of the story and so forth."
Nevertheless, McFarland said that he is concerned about the allegations made about his employee.
"I'm not really concerned about bad publicity to the club or anything like that," said McFarland. "I know that my club is a non-alcoholic club and we didn't do anything wrong and so forth. My main concern is two things: one, and first and foremost, is that Ryan's career was cut short before it even started, so to speak - and two, that it possibly came from an employee of mine at my club, and so those are the two things that I'm mainly concerned about. Right now I'm not really into this thing where I have to investigate stuff because, like I said, it doesn't really involve the club in that aspect until we heard about it. But if I do hear that it was [the employee in question] or somebody else in our organization, there's going to be some consequences to pay."
The Kessmans believe that Ryan was being punished not only for the honor code infractions he admitted to, but also for being around others who committed other infractions.
"I guess it was a combination of being around the wrong people…as well as having a cappuccino," said Ryan. "That is breaking the honor code and I do deserve punishment. This whole thing [about me transferring] isn't because of me getting suspended. I mean, I deserve to get suspended. I drank a cappuccino and that's against the honor code…But any goofball can go and say you've done something wrong by sending a simple little email, and that can get you suspended. I mean, I really think that is ridiculous."
"The bottom line is Ryan didn't like the way the incident was handled and he didn't want to be a part of it any longer," said Steve. "He said, ‘This isn't going to happen to me again.' He said, ‘I'm not going to be a part of this.' Let the punishment fit the crime. Let him do his time as far as his suspension is concerned, but the other kids admitted to something far worse…and got the same suspension. If that's what it is, fine. But the way it was handled and how they got there from the beginning was just absurd."
A suspension from practicing and working out with the team for the entire season simply for drinking a cappuccino - among other minor infractions - may seem harsh and seem like a punishment that fits a greater violation. However, even if a greater infraction had occurred, neither BYU nor Coach Mendenhall would make such information public; that information is kept private in order to protect the athletes.
"In my words this is a bit ridiculous in the way they went about it," said Steve. "Not ridiculous with the suspension - don't get me wrong. The suspension is not ridiculous. The suspension is deserved if [Ryan] did something wrong like violating the honor code, which he did, and it was the drinking coffee, violation of the curfew and for missing one weightlifting class in the morning."
The Kessmans felt that it would be better for Ryan to leave BYU than to stay, so Ryan met with Coach Mendenhall.
"Ryan met with him and Coach Mendenhall said, ‘No problem, sometimes the program isn't for some people,'" said Steve. "[Mendenhall] wished him good luck and said that if there is anything he could do for him, to send him a list of the names of schools that he wants him to contact and he would contact them for him. He wished him good luck and expects good things from Ryan in the future.
"Sure, people say he's running away from his problems, but he's running away from the people that made the problems as far as the way they conducted their investigation. They need to revamp their ways of conducting investigations in what needs to be investigated and what doesn't need to be investigated. The bottom line is, it's the way they conducted their investigation, and that's why he doesn't want to be there."
Steve, however, was complimentary of Coach Mendenhall.
"There was no animosity between [Ryan or Coach Mendenhall]," said Steve. "Coach Mendenhall was an outstanding person to do and say what he did in releasing Ryan and would be happy to help him out in any way shape or form."
At this point in time, the other five suspended athletes have not requested to be released to transfer to another school.