The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

College Sports

February 15, 2013

‘Everybody loved him’

AU community mourns death of student athlete, artist

ANDERSON, Ind. — Xavier Walton was a 6-foot, 2-inch defensive lineman with the soul of an artist.

At Anderson University, they called him ‘X.’

“Everybody loved him,” said professor Kathleen Dugan, who taught Walton in two classes this semester.

“It’s just so hard to believe he’s gone,” she said.  

Thursday night, Walton, a sophomore visual communication design major from Gary, collapsed while playing intramural basketball in AU’s Kardatzke Wellness Center. He was taken to Community Hospital Anderson, where he was pronounced dead at 10:03 p.m.

Less than an hour later, about 300 students had gathered in Reardon Auditorium.

“What’s incredible is the type of people who showed up,” said art professor Arlon Bayliss, who taught Walton’s 3-dimensional design class last year. “People from the art department, athletes, all these different people who had something to share.”

The students held hands, sang and took turns telling stories into a microphone.

Freshman art major Ellen Wuethrich spoke about a night last semester when she was working late in the art department. Walton walked her home.

“When we got there, I didn’t have my keys,” she said. “He stayed with me until I got them. He probably didn’t get home until like 5 a.m.”

As she spoke, Wuethrich spread white paint along a wall in the Jessie C. Wilson Gallery — a makeshift memorial where students can leave notes and drawings.

In one, the word “Xavier” was surrounded by clouds and enveloped with angels’ wings, painted by freshman Kaitlyn Phipps.

The memorial was part of an impromptu showcase of Walton’s sculpture, charcoal and mixed-media work from this semester.

“This is all we could find,” Dugan said. “The rest of it’s with his grandmother in Gary.”

In one work, a standing figure rests against the back of another figure’s chair. A mix of soft, yellow and blue paint strokes and aggressive charcoal lines, it’s almost metaphoric of Walton’s conflicting passions.

“He was a teddy bear,” Dugan said. “But he was apparently very aggressive” on the football field.

No. 95 Walton, was a 245-pound defensive lineman who lettered in football as a freshman. Friday night, football players and staff held a prayer vigil in his memory.

“Xavier was a strong Christian and a wonderful teammate,” said head coach Bobby Ladner, “The team and coaches loved him a great deal.”

The art department also held a vigil Friday night as a “private, family time to process in a safe place,” Bayliss said.

Late Friday, there was no clear cause of death, said Madison County Coroner Marian Dunnichay. An official ruling could take several weeks pending a microscopic tissue evaluation and standard toxicology report.

In the meantime, all of  the campus mourns his loss, Anderson University president Dr. James Edwards said.

“We are all deeply saddened that such a promising young man would pass from us,” he said. “But we celebrate all we have come to know about him and hold his family, classmates, roommates, teammates, and his many friends in our love and prayers.”

Find Baylee Pulliam on Facebook and @BayleeNPulliam on Twitter, or call 648-4250.

Text Only
College Sports
  • mfp file Hoffner Fired coach unjustly accused of visiting porn sites

    The president of Minnesota State University-Mankato accused a football coach of looking at Internet porn on a work computer before firing him, an arbitrator has revealed. The official said the claim could not be supported, and the coach shouldn't have been fired.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Waltman, Royce Longtime Indiana basketball coach Waltman dies at 72 Royce Waltman, an assistant to Bob Knight at Indiana and a longtime basketball coach around the Hoosier state, died Monday night after battling a long illness. He was 72.

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • NCAA Kentucky UConn F_Brem(1).jpg Connecticut wins NCAA title

    Shabazz Napier turned in another all-court masterpiece Monday night to lift the Huskies to a 60-54 win over Kentucky's freshmen and a national title hardly anyone saw coming.

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_isaacsmith.jpg Near tragedy creates emotional moments at Indiana

    Without Ty Smith, Nick Stoner and Mitch McCune, Isaac Griffith probably wouldn't have been in the Hoosiers' team room on a crisp, blustery spring afternoon, explaining how grateful he is for a second chance at life.

    April 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0403 - AU vs Manchester - 115 Ravens baseball team eyes progression

    Four years ago the Anderson University baseball team had claimed its eighth Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season title in 25 years — just its second in 13 years.

    April 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0402 - AU vs Manchester - 090 Ravens falter late in baseball loss The Anderson University Ravens failed to capitalize on their chance to put some separation between themselves and Manchester University in the standings of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tuesday night.

    April 2, 2014 3 Photos

  • AU sets sights on another conference title A year after making a historic run to the school’s first appearance in the NCAA Division III National Championship, the Anderson University Lady Ravens are ready to take that next step.

    March 31, 2014

  • SPT - HB0331 - AU vs. Franklin Lady Ravens open home schedule with two wins After playing nine games in Florida to opening the season and have two area games postponed due to weather, the Anderson Lady Ravens opened the home portion of their schedule Sunday afternoon with a sweep of Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference foe Franklin, 10-2 and 8-4.

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kentucky punches ticket with late 3 Kentucky was the final team to punch its ticket for the Final Four, but none made it with any more gusto.

    March 30, 2014

  • spt_michigan.jpg Michigan holds off furious Vols' rally

    Tennessee came within one offensive foul call of pulling off one of the really big rallies in NCAA Sweet 16 history. But Michigan’s Nik Stauskas hit one of two free throws to secure the Wolverines’ place in the Elite Eight at the Midwest Regional at Lucas Oil Stadium on Friday night.

    March 29, 2014 1 Photo