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NCAA denies eligibility to Rock senior

Tyler Friel, Rocket Contributor

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Rock senior Frank Holloway played three years of college basketball on the floor. Most athletes expect to play four. According to the NCAA, Holloway will never have that chance.

“He’s well respected in the locker room and the classroom,” Slippery Rock Head Coach Kevin Reynolds said. “You wish things like this wouldn’t happen to guys like Frank.”

Holloway and Reynolds were told by the NCAA that Holloway, after what was supposed to be only his redshirt-junior year, would not be eligible for the upcoming season. The story dates back to Holloway’s years at Garrett College, a junior college in Maryland. Holloway suffered a foot injury during his sophomore year, which didn’t allow him to step out onto the floor. But because he was planning on transferring and never played a game, Garrett College did not seek to fill out a medical hardship form.

Holloway entered what would have been his redshirt-sophomore season at his new school, Longwood. After two games, he injured his shoulder which ultimately led to Longwood medically redshirting him. At this point, Holloway had only played one season of basketball in his collegiate career. The Longwood staff was eventually fired and Holloway was back at Garrett College for another season. For that reason, Holloway never got back his second year from his first stint at Garrett.

Holloway, in his third year at Garret but only his second on the court, led Garrett to its first national tournament appearance and was recruited by Division I schools. However, there were rules that restricted Holloway to go play Division I, and he eventually found his way to Slippery Rock.

“He had Division I suitors,” Reynolds said. “But because of NCAA rules prohibited him from going Division I, we were Frank’s choice, which was something we were excited about.”

For good reason, Holloway averaged 10.5 points per game and 6.2 rebounds last season, which helped propel Slippery Rock to a win in the national tournament.

The NCAA, though, delivered crushing news to Slippery Rock earlier this year saying Holloway was ineligible for the upcoming season.

The NCAA said Holloway did not have proper paperwork to cite the medical year of absence from his second year at Garrett, and did not grant him a sixth year of eligibility.

The NJCAA (National Junior Collegiate Association of America) also had the same ruling. However, after an appeal, the NJCAA rescinded its ruling, and claimed Holloway had the proper paperwork and should not have lost a season of eligibility.

“When you read that ruling,” Reynolds said. “It’s mind-blowing how the NCAA could not overturn its ruling.”

The story did draw the attention of national media, including a story on the front page of the sports section in the USA Today, as well as ESPN’s Jay Bilas who said in a tweet, “The NCAA needs to reexamine its bad decision. Or stop preaching ‘Athlete Welfare’ to us. This guy is getting jobbed.”

Holloway said he’s keeping his head high despite the unfortunate scenario.

“I have to embrace this situation,” Holloway said. “I try to be a role model for the guys on the team because I know what everyone on the team is going through and how they feel.”

The NCAA Division I board has a plan in place that is essentially a “common-sense” ruling, that Reynolds said would have made Holloway eligible at the Division I level. However, Division II does not have that rule in place. Reynolds expects the board to approve such a rule in January during their next rules meeting.

“It’s going to be known as the ‘Frank Holloway Rule’ unfortunately,” Reynolds said.

Holloway said that despite his absence, he believes in Slippery Rock this year.

“If everyone can embrace their roles on the team,” Holloway said. “They should win the PSAC.”

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NCAA denies eligibility to Rock senior