Nick Emery Reflects On BYU Career, Personal Demons, NCAA Scandal After One Year Retired

Jul 18, 2020, 11:23 AM | Updated: 11:24 am
Nick Emery - BYU...
Brigham Young Cougars guard Nick Emery (4) smiles during the USU game in Provo on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018. BYU won 95-80. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)
(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – One year ago, former BYU player Nick Emery announced his retirement from the game of basketball. Approaching the one year anniversary of that decision, Emery turned to his personal Instagram page to open up about the past year and how his life has been without basketball.

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Many have mixed opinions on the career Emery had at BYU. A former four-star recruit out of Lone Peak High School, Emery in his freshman season at BYU in 2015-16 appeared to be on the fast track towards being the next star guard in Provo. Emery set a freshman record for most points scored in a game and was an All-Conference performer during his first season with the Cougars.

But stardom quickly subsided for a career filled with scandal, controversy, and gossip.

With basketball now in the rearview mirror for Emery, he opened up about his career both on-and-off the court at BYU and how those experiences shaped his life today as a husband and a father.

Nick Emery reflects on BYU basketball career

“My Grandpa has always told me, “When the cheering stops, the pain lingers on” …

“I reminisce a lot on my basketball days and the lessons it has taught me. Not only the lessons but the relationships with teammates, coaches, players, and so many others. It’s hard not to think back to the times where everything seemed like a dream. Playing in front of 20,000+ fans with guys I’d go to battle with any day was a dream I had ever since I was a little boy.

“I expected life to be a lot different than what it is now. I was expecting to be playing professional basketball somewhere. After a great Freshman season, my dreams of playing professionally started becoming a reality. I was excited.

“My sophomore year we had some great memories. Beating #1 Gonzaga in the Kennel was definitely the most memorable. The year didn’t turn out how we expected it to but it was still fun.”

Nick Emery on withdrawing from BYU in 2017: “I shut down”

“After Sophomore year, I was married and called off my marriage. In the LDS church this is taboo and frowned upon. The rumors started. Everyone wanted to know why. My mental health began to deteriorate. I was beyond depressed. My marriage situation was toxic and was destroying who I was so I got out.

“I was attacked every way possible someone, who I thought, I was supposed to spend ‘eternity’ with. NCAA investigation, Honor Code investigation, Title IX, School and much more was just too much me to handle. I withdrew from school and basketball in hopes to get my mind in a better place.

“After withdrawing from school and basketball I shut down. I didn’t know if I had it in me. I was so mad and angry because a girl I trusted turned so many of my closes friends in and fabricated lies about them to the NCAA. People who actually helped her and genuinely cared for her she threw straight under the bus.

“I survived this grueling year, I owned up to my faults and was able to have a second chance by my Head Coach, Coach Rose. To this day and every day moving forward, I will always say the NCAA is a corrupt organization. How they treated me, my family, and my closest love ones was terrible. I wanted to play basketball again so I accepted their ‘infractions’.”

Emery’s experience with BYU’s Honor Code & Title IX offices

“I love BYU and it will always have a special place in my heart but as far as my Title IX and Honor Code stuff though … This is something that has absolutely destroyed me. The way BYU handled things was more of an interrogation to be honest. It was unjust and completely unfair. It wasn’t “Did you do this?”, rather it was “Why did you do this.” When nothing on the list of accusations was remotely true. I still to this day have a lot of resentment towards the process and lost a lot of trust in BYU as well as the church process. I wish they would change a lot of things.

“I accepted the embarrassment. I accepted the media outlets writing their opinions. I accepted the hate and just wanted to prove to myself I could play college basketball again. I did just that and was proud of myself for overcoming so much but as everyone could tell. I was not the same. I wasn’t as confident. I held a lot of anger. I was trying to fight my own demons. I will always remember my Jr year because I was around incredible teammates who supported me through everything and had my back.

“I have a lot of respect for the people who helped me during those tough times. Who actually reached out and cared. There are so many people from my academic advisors, coaches, therapist, friends, family, etc. who helped me so much and I’m grateful for that.”

Life after basketball

“After my Jr year, Coach Rose retired. This hit me hard because he was one of the biggest supporters through my whole process and gave me another chance to come back and play the game I love. I was contemplating being done playing ball after the season because I was just emotionally drained. I decided to keep going but decided it was time to hang up the jersey in July of 2019.

“During my Jr year, I met an amazing woman and we got married in July of 2019. I became an instant father and it was the greatest blessing during that hard time. Now, being a father to 2 incredibly cute boys and being married to my best friend…I now have a greater perspective of life that’s far greater than basketball.

“Basketball is now just a memory. People/Fans remember me as that dude who got divorced on the basketball team. Or the dude that “punched” the Utah player. Or the person who’s records got taken away from the record books. I don’t think about that though. I think about the opportunity I had to play in front of so many fans who were incredible supporters as well as playing with my boys!

“1 year later from retiring from the game that I loved for so long, the pain still lingers in a lot of areas mentally and physically. I feel it, others can see it. Some days are harder than others. But I can look back and be grateful for the opportunity I had to play the game that I loved for so many years. Those memories will always outweigh the hard times. I just hope someday my pain will subside and I can teach my boys they can reach any goal they set their minds to. I can only hope they don’t have to experience the same personal battle I battled and continue battling mentally every day.”

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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