BYU star reinstated on team

Published: Friday, Feb. 8 2008 12:00 a.m. MST

PROVO — Brigham Young University baseball star Kent Walton, who had been dismissed from school after his ecclesiastical endorsement was withdrawn by his bishop, is enrolled at BYU again and has returned to the Cougars' baseball team, coach Vance Law told the Deseret Morning News Thursday night.
"I'm ecstatic about it. He's a fine young man and we're extremely happy to have him back," Law said. "It was a long, drawn-out ordeal and we're very appreciative of all the support from the administration.
"He's a good student, a kid with good grades, and the kind of guy who you want to have on your team and representing your school. It's all behind us now, and we look forward to having a whale of a season."
Law learned of the change in Walton's enrollment status through a phone
call he received from the player Thursday evening.
"He was so happy. I can't tell you how happy he was," Law said. "He wanted to be here at BYU. He didn't want to transfer."
Walton, a second baseman who is projected to be taken in the Major League Baseball draft next June, was among the team leaders in several statistical categories, including tied for first in at-bats (223) and RBI (45) last season. His .350 batting average was third-best at BYU, and he was second in home runs (eight), slugging percentage (.587) and on-base percentage plus slugging percentage (.967).
Law said Walton is one of the best pro prospects he's had during his tenure at BYU. "It was going to be tough to replace him," Law said.
Ken Walton, Kent's father, said he received a phone call from both Law and his son Thursday night, informing him of the news.
"Coach Law told me his status is back and complete and he'll be able to attend class (Friday)," Ken Walton said.
The trouble for Kent Walton began when his ecclesiastical endorsement was withdrawn. BYU, which is sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, requires all incoming and continuing students to receive an ecclesiastical endorsement from their religious leaders.
In a report in the Salt Lake Tribune, Ken Walton said his son's ecclesiastical endorsement was withdrawn by the bishop because of a perceived lack of attendance and activity in his student ward.
The elder Walton said that his son had attended some 70 percent of his church meetings last fall and was ill, visiting friends or home on other occasions. Kent Walton assisted his son in appealing the decision.
"Through the whole ordeal, I met some great people at the university. It was an uplifting experience," Ken Walton said. "The university really does stand behind its students. It's been an emotional roller-coaster. I'm glad the school stood behind Kent."
Had Walton not been readmitted to BYU, Law said, Walton would likely have had to transfer to remain academically eligible to play. If he didn't, Walton would have been ineligible for this season and possibly the next.
Walton played 55 games each year as a freshman in 2006 and sophomore in '07. In Mountain West Conference action, Walton led the Cougars in homers, runs, hits, RBI and slugging percentage, with the 6-foot, 185-pounder earning academic all-conference honors.

E-mail: jeffc@desnews.com and taylor@desnews.com

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