PROVO — It appeared that BYU had lost star forward Yoeli Childs late last March, when he declared for the NBA Draft.
Then, in late May, Childs changed his mind and decided to return to the Cougars for his senior season.
But in the two months since that decision, the NCAA has reviewed Childs’ situation and announced Friday that it has ruled that Childs will serve a nine-game suspension to open the 2019-2020 season. The NCAA determined that Childs was not in compliance with new rules instituted regarding players declaring early.
During the time that BYU was searching for a new head coach after the retirement of Dave Rose, Childs signed with an agent before filing the proper paperwork required by the NCAA.
As Childs talked with new coach Mark Pope and his staff about a possible return to the program, it became clear that there were some misunderstandings with the new rules and the school worked with the NCAA to resolve the issue.
“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.”
“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.”
Pope said that Childs had “a couple of incredibly lucrative contract opportunities sitting on the table” before deciding to return to BYU.
“But we knew there could potentially be some complications with his reinstatement. This young man said, no, I’m coming back. We’ve been working diligently on this for a couple of months,” he added. “We got information from the NCAA and appealed it. We got the final word on the appeal. … We’re incredibly disappointed. You’re not going to find a young person anywhere that has tried so hard to do things exactly the right way, knowing there were going to be complications coming. … Yoeli would be the first to say that he did make mistakes but they were unintentional.”
BYU’s schedule has not yet been released but it is anticipated that he won’t be eligible to play until early December. Last year, former Cougar guard Nick Emery also missed the first nine games of the season due to an NCAA suspension and his first game was Dec. 5 against Utah State.
Childs will be sidelined for the prestigious Maui Jim Maui Invitational in November. BYU is set to face UCLA in the first round. Other teams in the field include Kansas, Michigan State, Virginia Tech and Georgia.
Despite the ruling, Childs remains optimistic that the Cougars can accomplish their goals this season, which includes getting to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five years.
“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.”
BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe offered his support of Childs in a statement.
“We are excited to have Yoeli Childs at BYU. 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,” Holmoe said. “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.”
After a strong freshman season, Childs made a big improvement as a sophomore, averaging 17.8 points and 8.6 rebounds per game while hitting 54 percent of his shots from the floor and 64 percent from the free-throw line. He also blocked 63 shots.Comment on this story
Childs tested the NBA waters last spring and received valuable feedback. He wanted to improve his 3-point shooting, among other things.
Last season, as a junior, Childs averaged 21.2 points and 9.7 rebounds. After making 15 of 48 (31 percent) 3-pointers as a sophomore, he knocked down 32 of 99 (32 percent) 3-pointers as a junior.
Though he’ll miss the first nine games of the regular season, Childs will be able to play for the Cougars during their upcoming trip to Italy. BYU will play four exhibition games overseas later this month.