IU recruit hoping for reinstatement

The full Eli Holman story from today’s paper.
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Holman has been suspended 18 months for pushing official in game last season

By Chris Korman and Matt Dollinger
331-4353 | ckorman@heraldt.com and 331-4355 | mhd@heraldt.com

November 10, 2006

Eli Holman, the California center who signed a letter-of-intent to play basketball at Indiana beginning next year, still does not know if he will be allowed to play for his high school team this year.

But indications are that a suspension he incurred last season will be lifted in time for him to begin his senior year.

Holman, a 6-foot-9 center who plays for Richmond High School, was suspended 18 months for pushing an official during a Dec. 3, 2005 game.

Terri Ishmael, the Richmond principal at the time, conducted an investigation into the incident and decided that Holman had broken a North Coast Section of the California Interscholastic Federation bylaw, which states that, “Any student who physically assaults the person of a game or event official shall be banned from interscholastic athletics for the remainder of the student’s eligibility.”

Holman and his family filed an appeal to the NCS, which ruled that Holman could apply for reinstatement this fall. At the time, the appeals committee asked Holman to complete several tasks, including anger management classes.

The NCS and CIF have yet to release their final ruling, although Richmond assistant coach Lonnie Coleman said he believes they will reinstate Holman.

“Originally, they wanted to have a hearing,” he said. “But they then decided just to collect letters of recommendation and are going to review those and come to their decision.

“All things are pointing to reinstatement, though,” Coleman said.

NCS commissioner Tom Ehrhorn said he expects the decision within a week.

“If he’s done all the things we’ve requested of him then this section will be in support of his appeal,” said Ehrhorn, who declined to list the stipulations given to Holman.

Coleman said that dozes of people have written letters in support of Holman, including many from outside basketball.

Holman’s anger management counselor has submitted a report and the area basketball officials are also behind Holman, according to Coleman.

“He played all summer and there was no further incident,” he said. “Everyone here knows he is a good kid.”

Coleman did not witness the incident last year – Richmond’s whole coaching staff has changed – but said it has been overblown.

“You hear people say he threw punches or really shoved,” Coleman said. “I’ve talked to a lot of people about it and they said it was just illegal contact, a little bump. They just have a zero-tolerance policy here.”

Coleman said that Holman was going through a tough time last December. His grandmother, with whom he was close, had died and Eli was unable to attend the funeral because it was out of town.

Richmond began official basketball practices this week, with Holman taking part. He also played on a fall recreation league team and averaged 20 points, Coleman said.

In addition, Holman has been taking night courses at a local junior college to improve his GPA.

“Unfortunately, you have to go through some things to understand sometimes,” Coleman said. “This incident humbled him. Had he been able to play all last year I think he’d be a top 10 or top 15 player in the country. How many high school kids can average a triple-double? But this incident has made him realize that it’s not always going to be easy and that there are other tall, talented kids out there. It’s not just about basketball for him anymore.”

Coleman said the incident had no effect on the number of schools recruiting Holman and that Holman wasn’t worried about his stock dropping because he was only able to play four games as a junior.

“Tons of schools were still calling,” Coleman said. “So Elijah was never worried. He was just embarrassed by what had happened. He felt he let a lot of people down. Little kids were watching the game. He felt terrible about that.”

Holman, who could not be reached by The Herald-Times Thursday night, did speak to the Contra Costa Times about the incident.

“That was the best thing that happened to me in high school,” he said. “I know it sounds awkward in the way I am answering, but it was the best thing to happen to me. It made me appreciate (basketball) and made me realize that basketball can be taken away from me at any time.”

A speech Holman made at his first hearing before the NCS in January convinced Ehrhorn he deserved a second chance.

“My impression of Eli was that he was very sincere,” he said. “He was remorseful in what had happened and it brought tears to our eyes because he felt so bad about it.”

Indiana basketball coach Kelvin Sampson, who was hired in March, was not available Thursday night to discuss Holman’s recruitment but said through a media relations spokesman that he would do so in the coming days.

5 comments

  1. Why on earth would anyone recruit a kid out of high school who is currently suspended? Is this just another case of everyone unwilling to stand up for right and wrong. This same kid or type of individual will go on to college and probably have another incident. That is why our pro ball players use drugs without any fear of accountability. I say let him slide to someone else and dont waste the scholarship.

  2. To Wondering Why: Your parents must be very proud of you!! Its not too many parents that have children that never made a mistake. Now, if he was arrested for assault, drugs, robbery or other such actions, I would agree with you. It seems that his only offense was pushing a ref (never acceptable) and he has not been involved in any other incidences. Give the kid a break.

  3. Wondering Why,

    I thought the same thing at first. But after talking to someone who was close with the situation, it sounded like Holman was a well-liked kid who made a mistake that was out of character.

    I’m not defending him, but that is probably the reason Sampson recruited him.

    That…and the 12 blocks a game he was averaging before the suspension can’t hurt.

  4. Wondering why:

    The kid made a mistake it aint like he killed the guy. I think he deserves another chance. I talk to someone that was there that night and they said teholman kid made a terrible mistake and has paid the penalty so let him play I’m sure he learned his lesson and it wont happen again. Yeah thats right, I wrote about myself because I know what I did was unprofessional and uncalled for. I did my time and learned that this game that I loved so much can be taken away from me in a blink of an eye, but I don’t let people get me down like the first comment because I believe in God and everything happens for a reason. Thank you for your support and may God Bless you!!

  5. Dear Eli,

    Hoosier Fans are happy to have you as a special part of this recruiting class. We look forward to you arriving on campus and blocking shots at will.

    You seem like an excellent young man and good luck no matter what happens this season. Study Hard so that you can get to IU in June.

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