PROVO, Utah — BYU senior linebacker Spencer Hadley opened up about the honor code violation that cost him a five game suspension, according to a Sports Illustrated report.
Hadley, his teammates and head football coach Bronco Mendenhall were at the Utah State Prison to address a group of inmates in the Substance Abuse Treatment program, the report said, and that’s when Hadley broke his silence.
“I’ve done some things that have embarrassed my family, my teammates, my school and even my church,” Hadley was quoted as saying in the Sports Illustrated article. “But I believe in redemption.”
The meeting took place miles away from the BYU home stadium, inside a small gym in the Promontory Correctional Facility.
“It was almost a packed house,” said Craig Burr, Division Director of Programming for the Utah Department of Corrections.
Burr attended the event, where after a series of speeches from coaches and players, a comment from an inmate brought Hadley to the front of the room.
“Just as Coach Mendenhall finished his remarks, one of the inmates yelled out of the back, ‘Let Hadley play!’” Burr said.
The remark echoed throughout the room, and Burr said Coach Mendenhall looked back at Hadley and asked if he wanted to speak. The 23 year old rose from his seat and stood just feet away from about 130 inmates.
“It couldn’t have been said by anybody better than Spencer Hadley, Friday night,” Burr said. “It was very emotional to see how the team has rallied around Spencer Hadley at this time and how the audience rallied around Spencer.”
For about ten minutes, Hadley had the attention of the entire room, as he admitted to disappointing himself and his team. According to Sports Illustrated writer Jeff Benedict, his words were heartfelt and genuine.
“I had tears in my eyes, and I was sitting there trying to be a journalist and it was very overwhelming,” Benedict said.
According to Benedict, Hadley admitted to drinking alcohol and visiting a Las Vegas nightclub, actions that violated the BYU Honor Code. However, Hadley denied allegations that he received extra benefits from a booster.
“I think the answer to that is no,” Benedict said. “This guy was not booster. This guy didn’t even go to football game. He’s not a guy who sits in the stands. He doesn’t support the program. He doesn’t send money in. He’s not a booster, by definition.”
Hadley’s message to the inmates focused less on his past mistakes, though, and instead on how to move forward and learn from them.
“Spencer gave them a message that all of us can overcome things that we’ve done in our lives and all of us can become great,” Burr said. “And I think that just moved them, and it was a very moving experience.”