FORT WAYNE – Canterburys Austin Hatch will get another year of high school eligibility from the IHSAA.
The junior missed last season while recovering from injuries suffered in a plane crash in June 2011 that took the lives of his father, Stephen, and stepmother, Kimberly, while on vacation in Michigan.
(Commissioner) Bobby Cox from the IHSAA has granted me another year of eligibility since I missed last year, Hatch wrote Wednesday in a text message. Im looking forward to being back out there.
The 6-foot-5 forward averaged 24 points and nine rebounds as a sophomore and committed to the University of Michigan about a week before the plane crash.
The extra year of high school basketball means Hatch will become a 2014 Wolverines recruit and sign a letter of intent in November 2013
We have a provision in our bylaws (Rule 12-3) that allows for the association to grant an extra year of eligibility if the student is incapacitated through illness or injury to a position by where they cannot attend school or earn credit toward graduation, Cox said. In the case with Austin, he was severely injured and spent many months in a coma and did not earn any credit, and now the young man is trying to work his way back. He is not going to be able to graduate on time, and so we have the opportunity to give him another year, and it was the right thing to do.
Basketball is part of his high school experience, so within our framework we are allowed to have that opportunity for the young man, and I am happy to do it for him.
Cox said he received letters from Canterbury athletic director Ken Harkenrider and Hatchs grandfather.
Im not surprised by the IHSAA ruling, first-year Canterbury boys basketball coach Scott Kreiger said. They have bylaws in place that address situations like these.
The extra year for Hatch is rare but not unprecedented.
We dont have a comprehensive list of all those that have received an additional year but, in consulting with others here, you could probably count on one hand the number of times its happened over the last 20 years, IHSAA sports information director Jason Wille wrote in an email.
What is not known is whether Hatch will be ready to resume his career with the Cavaliers. After the plane crash, Hatch spent three months in a Michigan hospital and then returned to Fort Wayne. He is back at school, rehabilitating and trying to regain his basketball skills.
They are going very well, Hatch wrote about the workouts. Getting better all the time.
The family released a statement late Wednesday.
The Hatch family thanks you for your prayers and good wishes for Austin during this past year. Austin is still in the healing process, even as he returns to school full-time for his junior year.
In 2003, Hatch and his father survived another plane crash that killed Austins mother, Julie, as well as a sister and a brother.