ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Austin Hatch, who survived two deadly airplane crashes and went on to suit up for Michigan, is giving up playing basketball.
Michigan coach John Beilein announced Monday the Big Ten approved a medical exemption waiver that will allow Hatch keep his scholarship and serve as an undergraduate student assistant.
“Basketball has always been a huge part of my life. However, it is what I play, not who I am,” Hatch said. “It was a goal of mine to return to the game that I love so much and I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to play for Michigan. After all that I have been through, it was a dream come true for me to put on a Michigan jersey and get into a game at Crisler Center.”
Hatch spent eight weeks in a coma with a brain injury after a 2011 crash that killed his father and stepmother. The single-engine Beechcraft A36 Bonanza flew into a garage near Charlevoix Municipal Airport in northern Michigan, about 10 days after Hatch verbally committed to play for Michigan.
A 2003 crash killed his mother, brother and sister. His father, Dr. Stephen Hatch, was the pilot both times.
Hatch, a 6-foot-6 guard, played a total of five minutes over five games as a freshman last season. He attempted two 3-point shots and made 1 of 3 free throws.
“As I have progressed through this first season, I know that I am not where I want to be, both academically and athletically,” he said. “My priority is academics, and I feel that it is in my best interest to devote more time to my studies. This decision honors my father, and it is something that I know he would agree with and be proud of me for making.”
Hatch grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, but went to live with his uncle in Southern California in 2013.
“I don’t want to be known by the time my career comes to an end here as just ‘a cool story,'” he said early last season. “Obviously what happened to me is kind of unique, but that is what happened. That is not who I am. That is a big part of my life, but I am about moving forward and making the most of my experience here.”
Beilein said he had been discussing a switch from player to undergraduate assistant the last few months. He said it’s in Hatch’s best interest to go on the medical scholarship.
“This change allows Austin to devote the necessary time he needs to be successful in his studies and obtain a Michigan degree,” Beilein said. “We also wanted to be sure we continued our commitment to Austin keeping his full scholarship in place for the next three years. This waiver allows for both.”
Beilein said Hatch can continue to be a valuable member of the team as a leader, mentor and assistant. He said Hatch would travel with the team when it fits into his academic schedule.
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