MURRAY — Cottonwood High School football coach Josh Lyman feels blindsided by allegations that he had an improper relationship with a female student, his lawyer said Friday.
"He's shattered. I think he's as distraught as any person would be who's accused of something like this. This was completely unforeseen. It came out of the blue two days ago. He's upset," said attorney Ed Brass.
The Granite School District placed Lyman, 32, on paid administrative leave Wednesday after several students, including the girl making the allegations, told school officials he had inappropriate physical contact with a female student.
Brass said Lyman knows the girl from school but has had no social contact with her outside the campus.
"I think that when all this has been aired out properly that it'll be determined that there was no relationship between the two of them," he said.
Granite School District police are conducting a criminal investigation, while district officials are conducting an administrative investigation.
"Our desire is to complete it as swiftly and thoroughly as possible," said district spokesman Ben Horsley. "There is no time frame at this point."
Lyman "absolutely" maintains the allegations against him are false, Brass said. "I don't know what's been said about him out there, but I'm convinced that this is a gentleman that has not done anything criminal," he said.
Granite police have interviewed Lyman twice, and he declined to have an attorney present both times. "It says to me he's been cooperative," Brass said.
Outcomes of the criminal and administrative investigations could be different depending on what investigators find, Horsley said. It is standard procedure in any case for Granite police to confer with local prosecutors about criminal allegations, he said.
Cottonwood students Friday expressed various opinions about the accusations.
“I don’t believe it," said sophomore Sierra West. "I feel like the girl is trying to get attention.”
West said she knows Lyman from being in his gym classes. She said she trusts him as a person and students like him because he’s fun, easygoing, friendly and relates well to them.
“He has good relationships with all the kids," West said.
Jake Decker, a junior, said students have made online postings and are talking about organizing a walk-out or protest to support keeping the coach. But he said it should be left to the school administration to deal with.
“Why are the kids getting involved?” Decker asked. “If he did it, then he did it.”
Lyman, a former wide receiver at the University of Utah, was promoted from assistant to head coach prior to the 2010 season. He graduated from Skyline High School in 1997 and was part of three state title teams. He played football at Dixie State College before walking on at Utah.
A 17-year-old Cottonwood senior said the coach is well liked and that he sympathizes with him whether the allegations are true or not.
“I mean, I feel bad for the guy that it’s coming out like this," he said. "It’s embarrassing for him to have to go through this.”
Brass said he didn't know whether Lyman would return to Cottonwood regardless of the outcome.
"I know that he wants to clear his name and he wants to return to coaching," he said.