Kent Walton

PROVO — Kent Walton, projected to be BYU's starting second baseman this season and a player with Major League draft aspirations, is no longer a student at the private university or a member of the Cougars' 2008 roster.

A private 32,000-student university sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, BYU requires all incoming and continuing students to receive an ecclesiastical endorsement from their religious leaders. In the case of Walton, his ecclesiastical endorsement — which had been signed last year by his LDS bishop and stake president — was withdrawn by his bishop.

A student's endorsement may be withdrawn at any time if the ecclesiastical leader determines the student is no longer eligible for the endorsement.

University officials and members of Walton's family offered little or no comment when contacted Saturday and Monday by the Deseret Morning News.

BYU spokeswoman Carrie Jenkins confirmed that Walton was no longer an enrolled student at the university, that students who have had their endorsement withdrawn can reapply for admission at a later date, and that Walton's status was not a decision made by the university's Honor Code Office.

She declined further comment, citing privacy laws and university policies.

Likewise, BYU athletics department officials declined comment, saying the situation wasn't an athletics department decision or topic of discussion.

Kenneth Walton, Kent Walton's father, also declined comment Monday.

However, last weekend when news of Walton's enrollment status was reported by the Salt Lake Tribune, he said his son's ecclesiastical endorsement was withdrawn by the bishop because of perceived lack of attendance and activity in his student ward.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.

BYU allows that the decision to withdraw an endorsement may be appealed through the appropriate ecclesiastical process and then through the university's administrative review process.

Neither university officials nor Kenneth Walton would say whether the endorsement withdrawal has been or is currently being appealed.

Kent Walton played 55 games each year as a freshman in 2006 and sophomore in '07.

Last season, Walton was among the team leaders in several statistical categories, including tied for first in at-bats (223) and RBI (45). 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).

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.