Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship

Mormon Studies Review


Richard Kimball


religion, sports. race, comparative study


On the cusp of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in March 2011, Brigham Young University announced the suspension of star center Brandon Davies for violating the school’s honor code. Until that point in the season, the African American Davies had helped the Cougars to a number-three ranking in the national polls and had established himself as an outstanding sophomore center. The suspension became fodder for commentators on every side and spent a short time in the national spotlight. Davies’s reinstatement for the following season prompted

much less discussion and seemed to forestall further dialogue about the handling of the suspension and the ongoing difficulties for African American athletes at BYU. The situation, however, inspired Darron T. Smith, a sociologist and one-time adjunct faculty member at BYU, to “bring to light the complicated history of race and religion in the Mormon Church and the hypocrisy illuminated through the medium of sport” (p. vii). When Race, Religion, and Sport Collide: Black Athletes at BYU and Beyond takes us well past the Davies dismissal to consider the nexus of race, religion, sport, and economic inequality in American society writ large, using BYU as an exemplar of the nation’s colleges and universities. The school’s sponsoring institution, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, likewise represents the quintessential national white organization and acts as Smith’s “litmus test for the American experience.”