Brigham Young University will raise its enrollment cap starting next fall, signaling the first significant increase to its student body in more than two decades.
The Provo university will increase its enrollment by about 1.5% each year for the next six years, according to Carri Jenkins, a spokeswoman for the university. The increase will begin in fall 2020 with a few hundred students being added to the campus.
The percentage will be based on the university’s current total enrollment, which was previously capped at about 30,000 students.
Jenkins did not provide what the enrollment cap is anticipated to be at after the six years of increases. She said the exact number of additional students is not fixed. While BYU might see a slight increase in its number of transfer students, the increase will be focused on undergraduate students.
She said the change is part of a long-term plan to expand how many students can have a BYU education.
“This goal is part of our inspiring learning initiative, as well as our student success and inclusion efforts,” Jenkins said.
BYU’s board of trustees — made up of the highest-ranking members in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — authorized the university last year to begin exploring moderately raising its enrollment.
BYU last significantly adjusted its enrollment cap in 1998 when it added 2,000 students through a phased increase.
Jenkins said the university does not plan to build additional on-campus student housing to accommodate the increase and it does not anticipate adding new programs.
She said the increase is part of a deeper initiative that includes exploring how to increase its retention rate.
“We would like to see every student who enrolls at BYU complete their education, which would already increase our already high graduation rate of 86%,” she said.
The church-owned university has seen increased popularity and competition as the worldwide church has grown throughout the last several decades. The church claims to have more than 16 million members, with an additional million added every three years through births and baptisms.
Enrollment caps on church-owned schools have stayed mostly unchanged as the church expands. The church owns and operates BYU in addition to BYU-Idaho, BYU-Hawaii, LDS Business College and its newest program, BYU-Pathway Worldwide.
BYU recently adjusted its admission process to encompass a more holistic process and place less focus purely on GPAs and ACT scores in order to admit a wider range of students. Even with those efforts, test scores of the admitted freshman classes have remained high.
BYU had an acceptance rate of 68.5% for the 2019 spring/summer/fall admission season, with 7,775 of the 11,356 applicants being accepted, according to information from the university. The accepted students had an average GPA of 3.87 and an average ACT of 28.6, about eight points above the nation’s average composite score.
It has been five years since the Orem City Council and the Woodbury Corp. came to an agreement on a Commercial Development Area that would transform the University Mall to University Place.
On Tuesday, the council was given a five-year update on what has happened, what’s in the works and what is yet to come.
With Best Western taking over the Courtyard by Marriott building on Freedom Boulevard in Provo, Arthur Woodbury, vice president, confirmed that the Courtyard will be moving to the University Place campus.
Construction on the hotel will begin in the first quarter of next year. It will be located at the former Utah Transit Authority bus hub on the east side of the campus on 800 East at about 1000 South.
More than 70 apartments called the Exton, being built around the current parking terrace, will be ready for leasing in February. It will include a rooftop terrace. A new main entrance into the mall area from the parking terrace has already been completed.
The Devon apartments across from Costco are preleasing and will open in November.
Another parking terrace with a four-story class A office space built above the terrace is on the future schedule, as well as a redesign of the old Macy’s store for a yet-to-be named-anchor store.
Homes purchased on the north side of the campus have been demolished, the land has been cleared and everything has been prepared for the building of the new Hale Center Theater Orem.
According to Ryan Clark, director of Community Services, high-level donors to the theater need to see something from the city that shows it supports the theater by way of a resolution.
Woodbury has donated $1 million to get the theater going. Philanthropists Alan and Karen Ashton and the Barbara Barrington Jones Foundation are waiting for the city support.
The support will come in the way of a 30-year bond that the city can get at a lower interest rate. According to Jamie Davidson, city manager, the Hale Theater cannot obtain complete financing by themselves.
Similar to the Hale Centre Theatre in Sandy, Orem would own 50% of the theater and Hale would lease from them and pay back the bond.
As a failsafe, the theater is a large grant recipient of the CARE Tax and the money from that could be used to offset any lack of payment that might occur, according to Councilman Sam Lentz.
University Mall to University Place
In late 2013, the Orem City Council approved the zone change that would allow Woodbury, the owners of the mall, to redevelop 133.6 acres at the mall campus and rename it University Place.
The project was calculated to cost $500 million when completed. It would be built as demand arose over an 8- to 10-year period of time.
The project is ahead of schedule.
The first phase or benchmark would include infrastructure, rerouting roads, an office building, parking and apartments.
The CDA would be a post-performance subsidy that would allow build-out of the campus. That first benchmark has been achieved.
It is now Orem’s turn to pay back the $20 million agreed upon at completion of that first benchmark.
The CDA will last another 17 years. There are five taxing entities involved in the CDA: Orem, Utah County, Alpine School District; Central Water Conservancy District and Metropolitan Water Board. All five voted to give their approval to the CDA.
All entities have reported to the city they have already received benefits from choosing to participate in the project, according to Clark.
As University Place continues to grow, transportation and ease of mobility around the campus are a concern.
“Transportation areas are on our watch list,” Davidson said. “We will maintain and improve traffic.”
Davidson said it is anticipated that the light at 1200 South — the entrance between Trader Joes and Texas Roadhouse in front of the old Macy’s store — will move north to 1150 South/Park Avenue (on the campus). Another light will go in at 800 East at the new hotel location.
Many Utah County residents took to social media to express frustration when they received a postcard this week notifying them that a portion of their property taxes could double next year, something that was proposed during a Utah County Commission 2020 budget discussion earlier this month.
The proposal, if passed, would increase tax revenue for the county’s general fund, which makes up 6.8% of the county’s total property tax distribution, by $28.6 million.
As of the Oct. 8 discussion, the county’s 2020 baseline budget is out of balance by $10.5 million, not including capital expenditures.
Revenues from the general levy fund public safety and welfare, as well as government services and the justice system. The majority of property tax revenues, over 70%, fund the county’s school districts and would not be increased by this proposal.
Additional funds to address “critical deficiencies in essential services” were requested from various county departments, including $3.5 million from the Utah County Sheriff’s Office, $3 million from the Department of Drug and Alcohol Prevention and Treatment and $2 million from the Utah County Attorney’s Office.
The commission voted last year against increasing property taxes and instead opted to dip into county reserves.
But a true structurally-balanced budget, according to the Government Finance Officers Association, “is one that supports financial sustainability for multiple years into the future” instead of relying on reserve funds.
Here’s an example of how the property taxes in Utah County work: If a house is valued at $334,000, 55% percent of this value is taxed after accounting for homeowner tax exemptions. The Utah County general levy gets 6.8% percent of the $1,989 total property tax, which comes out to $123.45 in revenue annually.
This number would double under the commission’s proposal, meaning the homeowner in this scenario would receive an annual bill of $246.90.
Residents expressed frustration on social media over the proposed 100% increase which, to many, came as a surprise that lacked community input.
“Our personal budgets are getting completely blown,” wrote a member of the Facebook group Provo Forward. “How in the world do they think the citizens can keep up with this?”
“Getting expensive to live in Provo,” wrote another group member.
Josh Daniels of the clerk/auditor’s office noted in the Oct. 8 meeting that Utah County currently has the lowest general fund property tax rate of any urban county along the Wasatch Front. Even if the general fund tax doubled, as proposed, the Utah County rate would still be lower than those of Salt Lake, Weber and Davis counties.
Property taxes paid by Utah County residents have not kept up with inflation, according to Daniels. In 1998, a traditional single-family homeowner in Provo paid about $74 in property taxes to the general fund. Today, they pay about $96 which, after adjusting for inflation, is a 30% decrease.
When a home’s property value assessment increases, the property tax rate automatically decreases so that the owner pays the same nominal amount they did the previous year, which is why Utah County residents have not seen their rates increase.
Commissioners Bill Lee and Commissioner Tanner Ainge sparred over how the county should reconcile increasing expenditures and revenue shortages.
“I’m not seeing any other path,” Ainge said in support of the property tax increase. Ainge continued to say that “cuts alone are not going to fund” the 2020 budget, adding that between $10 million and $12 million in cuts would be needed.
“Well I have a completely different take on it,” Lee said.
He continued to see that he didn’t “really have an appetite for balancing the county budget on the backs of the taxpayers” without first looking for programs to cut, holding departments accountable for expenditures and verifying the clerk/auditor’s projection numbers.
Ainge rebutted that Lee was being “purely political” and “ignoring math and … basic economic principles.”
“Before we even set a (property tax increase) number, you said you were against it,” said Ainge. “What I want to see (from Lee) is a good-faith effort to actually balance our budget … and so far I have not seen that.”
Commissioner Nathan Ivie expressed support for a property tax increase and called it essential for keeping up with the county’s rapid growth. It is a difficult decision, Ivie said, but one that he feels “is very fiscally responsible and, in the long-term, in the best interest of the citizens of this county.”
Ainge, who joined the commission in January, said the county cannot continue “kicking the can down the road” when it comes to balancing the budget.
“You’ve had five years to address budget issues in Utah County,” Ainge said to Lee. “I don’t know what you’re waiting for.”
A public hearing to discuss the proposed property tax increase will be held on at 6 p.m. Dec. 11 at the Utah County Administration Building.
The Utah County Sheriff’s Office arrested a 23-year-old Provo man after he reportedly installed a hidden camera in an Eagle Mountain home.
Spencer Hansen was arrested and booked into the Utah County Jail on Wednesday on suspicion of three counts of the second-degree felony of sexual exploitation of a minor and two counts of the class B misdemeanor of voyeurism by electronic equipment that is concealed or disguised.
Earlier in October, Hansen had installed a hidden camera designed to look like a cellphone charger in a bathroom of a home he was living at in Eagle Mountain, according to a police report.
An adult reportedly recognized the device was a hidden camera, removed it and looked at the SD card. On the card was video footage of three underage girls, including videos that show the children entering the shower, according to the report. Two adults had also been recorded using the shower, and at least three other people were included on video.
Hansen reportedly told an adult he had placed the hidden camera in the bathroom and said he “has a thing” for one of the children.
When approached by police, Hansen reportedly asked for an attorney, and then later said he understood there are consequences and “this is my own doing,” reports state.
Here’s what’s going on inside Darnell’s head. I have an inferiority complex, but it’s not a very good one.
Make a choice
The two weeks heading into the Utah State game will give BYU football coaches some time to make a key decision: Jaren Hall or Baylor Romney at quarterback?
The old adage “It’s better to have two quarterbacks than none” is a good one. Coaches aren’t deciding between lesser evils here. Both guys showed a lot of potential in their respective starts, though Romney got a win and Hall didn’t.
I would start Hall if he’s healthy, for two reasons: 1) He’s a better runner and that means Utah State has to account for him in the run game and 2) I think Hall could have a huge game if the Cougar play callers are willing to be as aggressive as they were against Boise State.
Remember two years ago in Logan? Beau Hoge was making his second start at quarterback because of an injury to Tanner Mangum. Hoge was terrific and led the Cougars to a 21-7 lead … then he got hurt, Koy Detmer Jr. threw three interceptions and Utah State raced to a 40-24 win.
So I like the dual threat quarterback approach to the Aggies, especially after they got worked by Air Force 31-7 on Saturday.
Detmer, by the way, transferred to Texas A&M-Kingsville and on Saturday became the fourth player in school history to pass for more than 400 yards in a single game. He completed 37 of 65 passes for 450 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in a 45-33 loss to No. 4 Tarleton.
I ran into someone this week who said they don’t like Star Wars and wouldn’t go see “The Rise of Skywalker” in December even if my family invited him.
So they do exist. Huh.
Former Arizona guard Alex Barcello received a waiver this week from the NCAA to play immediately and that is really, really good news for the BYU men’s basketball program.
Barcello is a point guard with flair. He has a knack for finding the open man, can stick a jumper and is a pretty pesky defender. I could definitely see a three-guard lineup with Barcello at the point, T.J. Haws at the two and Jake Toolson as a wing. I like that Barcello can give the Cougars a different look when he enters the game and I think his impact during practice will be much bigger than if he was redshirting and playing on the scout team.
Unless Barcello grew six inches when we weren’t looking BYU is still going to have issues inside until Yoeli Childs is allowed to play in Game 10. But Mark Pope has a lot of guards to choose from and a lot of combinations to experiment with during the preseason.
It’s a shame that Utah Valley and BYU are not playing in men’s basketball this season.
We’ve had some spirited games in the series recently — who will ever forget the Wolverines’ stunning 114-101 win the Marriott Center in 2016? — but I understand why Mark Pope moving to BYU has created an awkward situation with his former school.
At basketball media day this week, UVU’s Casden Jardine didn’t hold back on the subject.
“I’m extremely disappointed,” he said. “It’s just crazy to me because of all the talk last year about how the game is so important to the community, it’s such an important game and the rivalry, the two cities of Provo and Orem need it. And now it’s just not happening?
“I’m disappointed, especially because a lot of us, that’s a game where we do have something to prove. That’s a game where we have that little chip on our shoulder and we just don’t get to experience that this year.”
Guard Brandon Averette added, “Yeah, it was a little disappointing finding that out. But we’ve got Kentucky so we’re really content with that one.”
Jeremiah Jensen of KSL-TV defended his UVU media day bowling championship last week, but there wasn’t much competition from myself and Sean Walker of KSL Digital. I’m a shooter, not a bowler.
Seeding and RPI
The 12th-ranked BYU women’s volleyball team won two matches on the road this week (at Loyola Marymount 3-1 and at Pepperdine 3-0) to move to 18-3 overall and 9-1 in WCC play. The Cougars are 21st in RPI and will probably host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. But they will have to go on the road if they make it to the Sweet 16.
The No. 4 BYU soccer team won twice this week at Portland (2-0) and at home against San Diego (3-1) to push its record to 15-0-1 overall and 5-0-1 in WCC play. With three league matches left, the Cougars are 20th in RPI. They will definitely host a first round match in the NCAA Tournament but beyond that probably will be on the road.
Such is the life of two really good programs in a mid-major conference. There just aren’t many opportunities to improve your RPI in league play. Volleyball beat No. 18 Utah and No. 2 Stanford, both on the road, in the preseason and lost to two top ten teams in Marquette and Texas. Soccer beat six Power 5 programs in the preseason, including No. 12 Texas A&M and No. 14 Kansas.
My point is, both Cougar teams did all they could in the preseason. All I know is I wouldn’t want to be a team from a Power Five conference that plays either one in the NCAA.
Thoughts and prayers to former BYU men’s basketball coach Dave Rose as he recovers from a heart attack suffered last week. We’re all mortal and news like that makes you think and then appreciate every moment you have with your loved ones. I know we were annoying, Dave, but I know every single media member who covered the team during your tenure wishes you the speediest of recoveries.
That’s all for now, but for this: Halloween is approaching. Zombies eat brains. You should be safe.
Just kidding. Have a great Halloween and an awesome week.
It was 1963 when Ernest Wilkinson stood before Brigham Young University’s governing board with a proposal.
The percentage of Latter-day Saints who would be able to attend the university was shrinking as the membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continued to increase. The solution, BYU’s then-leader proposed, was to create a junior college system with locations strewn across the country where students would attend for two years before transferring to BYU’s Provo campus. It was a proposal, Wilkinson argued, that would both allow the same percent of Latter-day Saints to continue attending a church-run school and prevent the university from increasing its admission standards.
The three-and-a-half hour meeting included plans to build campuses in locations such as Anaheim, Phoenix and Portland.
“Wilkinson wanted to provide every Latter-day Saint that wanted a college education the opportunity to do so through BYU,” said Gordon Daines, the chair of special collections at BYU’s Harold B. Lee Library. “Yet, you have to step back though and remember the church is still really small in the '50s.”
More than 50 years later, BYU and the church’s education system are seeing parallel circumstances to Wilkinson’s tenure as BYU’s leader. With an enrollment cap set at about 30,000 students, and a church that gains about a million new members every three years, the percentage of Latter-day Saints who can obtain a church-based education is shrinking.
Today, BYU is overseen by the Church Educational System, a network that includes the Provo campus, BYU-Idaho, BYU-Hawaii, LDS Business College in downtown Salt Lake City, seminaries, institutes of religion and its newest element, BYU-Pathway Worldwide.
Among its institutions of higher education, BYU is capped at about 30,000 students, BYU-Idaho has about 15,000 students, BYU-Hawaii has about 2,400 students and LDS Business College has about 1,300 students.
Additionally, Southern Virginia University, a Latter-day Saint-aligned institution not owned or operated by the church, saw a 50% enrollment growth over five years to reach a record of 1,035 students in 2019.
BYU-Idaho has managed its growth through the use of a three-track model, where students are assigned two trimesters to attend in order to accommodate more students on campus.
BYU is not considering a three-track model, according to Carri Jenkins, a spokeswoman for BYU. However, she said that last year the university’s board of trustees -- made up of the church’s highest officials -- authorized the university to explore moderately raising its enrollment cap.
As the church’s population grows, other questions surround its growth. The old Provo High School campus across the street from the university is owned by BYU, but the university has not announced what it plans to do with the building long term.
BYU has seen continued growth since it began offering college courses in the 1890s, according to Daines. Enrollment dropped during World War II, and then increased rapidly afterward due to the GI Bill. It dipped again after the church announced in 2012 it was lowering the required age for both male and female missionaries, and began rising again a handful of years later.
Enrollment increased five fold during Wilkinson’s tenure as president from 1951 to 1971, going from about 4,000 students to around 25,000. While Wilkinson gets credit for the growth, Daines said the groundwork was laid under his two predecessors, Howard S. McDonald and Franklin S. Harris.
Latter-day Saint students are drawn to BYU for a combination of various reasons, which include continuing a family tradition of attending, obtaining an education in a church environment and the potential to find a spouse that shares their beliefs.
The church’s theology includes the importance of obtaining an education and marrying within the faith in order to gain access to the highest levels of heaven. For decades, BYU has been seen as the destination to achieve both goals.
Daines said Wilkinson promoted the marriage angle during the 1950s.
“He played heavily on the social aspect that you could come here and find a person who believed the same as you and get married,” Daines said. “And there is still an element of that.”
BYU has drawn students from across the United States and globe to its campus. About one-third of students come from Utah and 5% are international students, according to BYU statistics.
The Anaheim plan
The LDS Church has seen growth since its beginning. Founded in 1830, it reached a million members in 1947, 2 million in 1963 and 3 million in 1971.
Anticipating future growth -- and wanting to identify where members would be -- Ernest Wilkinson hired Howard Nielson from the Stanford Research Institute in the 1950s and formed the Bureau of Church Studies at BYU to predict how many Latter-day Saints would be university-aged in 2000, according to information in “Anticipating the Year 2000: Howard Nielson, BYU, and Statistics,” an article written by Natalie Blades and Bruce Schaalje and published in BYU Studies Quarterly in 2012.
The 1957 study identified six regions that were expected to have more than 5,000 college-aged Latter-day Saints by 1975 and 10,000 by 2000. Based on the results, Wilkinson proposed capping enrollment in Provo at 12,000 to 15,000 students, moving Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho) from Rexburg to Idaho Falls and building up to 10 junior colleges.
Nielson predicted in his 1957 report that the church would reach 6.7 million members in 2000. It was actually 11.1 million, making his projection off by 80%.
“At the time, even a projection of 6.7 million seemed unrealistically optimistic,” the article reads.
Nielson’s extrapolations were off in other ways. He expected Latter-day Saints to migrate to Califironia, and projected by 1985 the church’s membership in Los Angeles would top that of Salt Lake City. In the end, Nielson overestimated California’s Latter-day Saint population by 1 million and underestimated membership in non-western states and Canadian provinces by the same amount.
The 1957 report shaped Wilkinson’s 1960 proposals for a junior college system to feed into BYU. The 1963 report Wilkinson gave to BYU’s governing body proposed limiting BYU to 15,000 upperclassmen and graduate students. It would have created eight regional junior colleges over 20 years and educated from 40,000 to 50,000 freshman and sophomore students at a time in junior colleges located in areas with high Latter-day Saint populations.
A pilot system would have included completing Ricks College, creating a junior college in Mexico City to train teachers, a campus in Anaheim and one in Phoenix. Wilkinson envisioned the Phoenix campus to be dedicated to Native American students, who he didn’t believe would spend more than two years in college.
“The new proposal is within the ability of the Church to finance -- indeed, the junior colleges will more than pay for themselves,” Wilkinson said, according to a report of the 1963 meeting with the governing board that is stored in BYU’s archives.
The junior college program, he argued, was necessary to continue providing a church education to the same percentage of Latter-day Saint students it historically had. He believed better-educated students will gain better jobs, therefore allowing them to pay more tithing to the church.
He estimated the campuses to cost between $3 million and $14 million each, with Phoenix and Anaheim on the higher end of the spectrum. But not everyone agreed with Wilkinson's calculations. During the meeting, he scoffed about a letter that was addressed to the church’s First Presidency claiming each junior college would cost $25 million. That estimate, Wilkinson said, had no basis.
The church purchased nine junior college campuses between 1957 and 1960 for about $8 million total, which included land in Idaho Falls, Salt Lake City, Portland, Phoenix, Mexico City and San Fernando, LaVerne, Anaheim and Fremont in California.
Wilkinson identified Anaheim as the “ideal location” for vocational training because of the area’s industry and population boom. In Phoenix, he expected the church to offer nursing, cosmetology, dental assistant and stenographer programs for female students, and vocational and technical training for males.
Phoenix, he reportedly said, was the perfect location to educate Native American students.
“My own judgement is that our government’s failure as respects Indian tribes has been its failure to educate them,” he said. “We can profit by the government’s bad example and furnish spiritual training in addition.”
The Anaheim campus would have included a football stadium, student center and an academic building, among other facilities, according to a report in support of the proposed Anaheim campus that is located inside BYU’s archives. The report, presented and stored on transparent slides, states that the Anaheim site would include campus housing for a few thousand students, with women’s housing listed as optional.
The campus would have included a staff of 250 and parking for 2,383 students, according to a 240-page report from 1964.
A site plan prepared in November 1963 shows the campus framed by a freeway to the north, Euclid Avenue to the east and Palma Avenue to the south. The roadways surrounding the proposed campus are today labeled as Riverside Freeway, La Palma Avenue and Euclid Street.
The area around the proposed campus now includes a community college, a hospital and is about three miles away from Disneyland.
Church vs. state
Wilkinson argued during the 1963 meeting against increasing BYU’s enrollment cap to 25,000 to 30,000 students by 1970, saying the change would be wasteful and extravagant. Increasing admissions standards, he said, would drive students to secular schools, and he didn’t believe that grades equaled ability.
His report took shots at Utah’s state schools, pointing out that the institutions didn’t require a dress code and that students were able to smoke, consume alcohol and participate in group “sex irregularities” without facing punishment.
Wilkinson argued students needed the spiritual training BYU provided, and said questions about evolution, if women should work while raising families, birth control and if “Negros” were inferior would “give trouble” in state schools and are handled in a way that would fortify strength at a church school.
“In Church junior colleges it is possible to assure proper teachings in political science, history, economics and business, etc.,” he said, according to the written report of the meeting. “We can steer clear of socialistic, statist and other doctrines inconsistent with Mormon doctrines, such as free agency.”
The plan for a junior college system was abandoned and the land was sold at a profit after a vote from the executive committee of what was then referred to as the Church Unified School System, according to the 2012 “Anticipating the Year 2000” article about the church's membership projections. Wilkinson then revised his proposal to include only the Mexico City, Anaheim, Phoenix campuses, along with Ricks College, but neither plan was ever implemented.
The plan’s death blow was finances, according to Gordon Daines, the chair of the special collections at the Harold B. Lee Library at BYU.
“It was just far more expensive, and Wilkinson may have realized it was far more expensive than any of the board members thought it was going to be,” Daines said.
In the end, the enrollment cap was increased, and remains today at about 30,000 students. Increased interested in BYU has led to admission standards increasing for the university and the Church Educational System as a whole has turned to the online BYU-Pathway Worldwide program within the last decade to help meet educational needs within the religion.
A former high school teacher charged almost one year ago with shooting a woman who was dating her ex-husband appeared in 3rd District Court on Tuesday for a scheduling conference.
Chelsea Watrous Cook, 33, is facing three first-degree felony charges for aggravated murder, aggravated burglary and felony discharge of a firearm.
Her next court appearance is a preliminary hearing on Feb. 21, where prosecutors will provide witnesses and evidence to prove Cook could have committed the criminal charges she is facing.
Judge Douglas Hogan in 3rd District Court in West Jordan ordered Cook to be held at the Salt Lake County Jail without bail during her court case.
Charges state Cook went to her ex-husband’s apartments in Midvale in November 2018 to drop off cold medicine for one of their children.
She reportedly lured her ex-husband outside the apartment and when he returned, Cook was in the living room with their 3-year-old twins and 26-year-old, Lisa Williams.
Police reported Cook locked herself in the bathroom while her ex-husband called 911. She later reportedly left the bathroom, walked to her coat, pulled out a handgun and shot Williams.
The American Fork woman suffered three gunshot wounds to her chest, hip and right leg. She died soon after being transported to a local hospital.
Family members said Williams had been decorating a Christmas tree with the Cooks’ children and made homemade ornaments with them before the shooting.
Cook taught health and yoga at Skyridge High School in Lehi at the time of her arrest. District officials stated she had been employed by the district for four years and previously worked at Lehi High School.
She is also facing a second-degree felony and a third-degree felony of discharge of a firearm, as well as two class B misdemeanor charges of violence committed in the presence of a child.
BYU sophomore defensive back Shamon Willis thought he did pretty well in his first start in the 28-25 Cougar upset win over then-No. 14 Boise State, although he was quick to note that he wants to get better.
“It was fun,” Willis said after practice on Tuesday. “It was something I’ve always dreamed about since I was younger. I wanted to enjoy the moment but also take advantage of the opportunity I’d been given. I felt like I did pretty well but now that I’m getting more experience I feel like I can get better. I learned a lot from the first game but overall I felt like I was able to learn a lot from the first game.”
He grinned when asked how his dad — former BYU star running back Jamal Willis — felt about his performance.
“He was more in the dad mode,” Shamon Willis said. “He was really excited to see me out there. He wasn’t really paying attention to the X’s and O’s. He was proud to be a dad and see my goals come true.”
The Cougar sophomore (and former Westlake star) credited his father’s knowledge and training for helping him get where he is now.
“He’s been an influence on me since I was in diapers,” Shamon Willis said. “I remember him taking me outside and we would do footwork drills, football drills, anything. When I got older in high school, he was the one I would go to for everything. He’s taught me probably the most about football that anyone has. He taught me toughness and how to compete. He tried to give everything he had to me. Obviously I have a different body type and I’m a different type of athlete, but he tried to instill those things in me since I was young and I’m very grateful for that.”
The path for Shamon Willis from playing for the Thunder included stops at Snow College and Weber State before arriving in Provo, so it wasn’t an easy road.
“It’s been a long process for me individually,” Shamon Willis said. “I’ve had to work so hard. I learned that things aren’t given to you, so you’ve got to work hard. I’m enjoying the moment but I’m not being satisfied with where I’m at.”
Now his goal is to continue to get better.
“I want to improve on making plays,” Shamon Willis said. “There were times where I saw it and there were times where I could’ve made a play, but experience didn’t allow me to do that. I wasn’t able to see it clearly, so I want to get back and watch those things on film so I can see them quicker.”
He liked how the BYU cornerbacks played aggressively against Boise State and said they want to continue to be physical when the Cougars play at Utah State this Saturday (8 p.m. MT, ESPN2).
“We were playing with confidence and getting hyped for everything,” Shamon Willis said. “We stepped it up and want to carry that on to the next game. Our cornerbacks want to go out and be the most physical group on the defense. That for sure is one of the key things that we focused on.”
He knows that the Aggies and specifically USU junior quarterback Jordan Love will test the BYU secondary.
“He’s really technical and he’s one of the better quarterbacks we will face this year,” Shamon Willis said. “As a defensive back group, we are taking it as a challenge to be on point with our technique and with our reads. As a defensive back, you always expect to be challenged but we will be ready. It will be a good challenge and we’re excited.”
After the first 20 minutes of BYU’s rather messy 100-58 exhibition victory against Division II UT Tyler on Friday, Cougar fans had a question: Where are the 3-pointers?
BYU went the entire first half without a triple, which was … curious. The Cougars were 0-for-4 in the first half from beyond the arc and missed another to start the second before sophomore Connor Harding broke the string with the first 3-pointer of the game for either team at the 18:32 mark.
Whew. Fans were beginning to think the NCAA moved the 3-point line too far back in the offseason.
The Cougars started 6-of-8 from beyond the arc in the second half, including four from freshman Trevin Knell to run away with the game. He finished with a team-high 19 points on 5-of-6 from the 3-point line.
“We mentioned at halftime that we were concerned we hadn’t gotten enough threes up,” BYU coach Mark Pope said. “Trevin Knell listened. This cat was so excited to get shots up and I’m excited to coach him. I recruited him really, really hard for a really long time.”
Knell scored all 19 of his points in the second half.
“Yoeli (Childs) gave me a pep talk before the game because I was pretty nervous coming back from my mission and stuff,” Knell said. “He gave me a great confidence boost. At halftime, Coach Pope just emphasized how we needed to rebound and run with pace. That really helped us and helped me get open shots. My teammates were there and found in transition because we ran with pace.”
BYU was 9-of-13 from the 3-point line in the second half and seemed to find a good offensive rhythm.
“We shoot the ball, that’s what we do,” Pope said. “We need to get shots up. As you might expect, we were so ramped up to go make plays that we never really got into a good flow in the first half. We finally got ourselves in a little better place making plays for each other and marinating the possessions a little and it was better.”
BYU never trailed in the game, easing out to a 13-3 lead at the 12:58 mark on a 3-point play by Harding. It was 25-10 when Alex Barcello sped in for a fast break with 8:27 showing on the clock. Lee, who led the Cougars with nine first-half points, backed down his defender three straight times in the post in the final two minutes to give BYU a 40-19 advantage at the break.
UT Tyler was just 6-of-24 (25%) from the field in the first half. BYU scored 12 points off eight Patriot turnovers and was 16-of-32 (50%) from the field. Toolson scored eight points and Nixon added seven points and six rebounds.
After Harding connected on the Cougars first 3-pointer of the game, Toolson scored seven straight points to get BYU out to a 54-26 lead. The next sequence saw Knell splashing a pair of 3-pointers around a long Toolson jumper to extend the BYU advantage to 62-28 with 12:45 remaining. The rest of the game was little more than a scrimmage as the Cougar lead reached as many as 48 points. Walk-on Cameron Pearson made two free throws to push BYU to the century mark and a 100-53 lead. The Cougars outscored the Patriots 60-39 in the second half.
“I think we all played in our role,” Lee said. “I don’t think we did anything too special. We just kind of went out there and played our game. We didn’t let them dictate too much. We just listened to the coaches, trusted the game plan and went out and executed.”
Senior grad transfer Jake Toolson added 17 points in 29 minutes, making 8-of-12 from the field and had seven rebounds and four assists. Childs — who will sit the first nine regular-season game due to an NCAA suspension — came off the bench and scored eight points in 16 minutes.
Harding tallied 15 points and eight rebounds in a very active 28 minutes. Lee cashed in on a slew of jump hooks in the paint and scored 13 points on 6-of-8 from the field. Senior forward Dalton Nixon contributed nine points and eight rebounds.
Projected starter T.J. Haws sat out the game due to illness. The Cougars were also without sophomore guard Jesse Wade (knee), sophomore forwards Richard Harward (redshirt, pending NCAA waiver), Wyatt Lowell (transfer redshirt) and Gavin Baxter (shoulder) and senior guard Zac Seljaas (foot).
BYU opens the regular season against Cal State-Fullerton on Tuesday at the Marriott Center.