Duke denies admission this semester for injured receiver Blair Holliday

lkeeley@newsobserver.comJanuary 15, 2013 

Last November, Blair Holliday and his family hoped he would be able to return to school this semester and reach another milestone in his recovery from a near-fatal personal watercraft accident. That won’t be possible, because his application for admission was denied by Duke.

“He was really disappointed. He tried to not get out of bed, but I made him,” Leslie Holliday, his mother, said to the Ventura (Calif.) County Star. “He wanted to get back into school and get back to a normal life around his friends. His doctor at Shepherd Center was 100 percent behind him doing it, but I think Duke maybe feels it is looking out for his best interest, too, to make sure when he does come back he succeeds.”

Holliday was pulled unconscious from the waters of Lake Tillery on July 4, after teammate Jamison Crowder accidently hit him while the two were riding water scooters. Crowder suffered no major injuries, but Holliday was airlifted to UNC Trauma Center in Chapel Hill. He had severe head injuries, including a broken jaw, and was nonresponsive. Slowly, his condition improved, and he has regained the ability to walk and talk and graduated from inpatient and outpatient therapy at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. Currently, he is at home in Southern California.

According to the Star, Holliday is a psychology major with a 3.75 grade point average. In a November interview with The News & Observer, Leslie Holliday said her son had petitioned to return to Duke as a part-time student in January. At Duke, however, only graduating seniors who need fewer than 3.0 course credits to graduate (4.0 is a full load) may request permission to study on a part-time basis in their last semester of enrollment, according to the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences website. This would be Holliday’s sophomore year.

Michael J. Schoenfeld, Duke’s vice president for public affairs, said he could not comment on specifics regarding any student’s academic or health issues.

“Blair Holliday is a valued member of the Duke community and (an) inspiration to everyone,” Schoenfeld said. “We are working to facilitate his return to the Duke campus in the near future.”

Leslie Holliday did not return a call seeking comment.

Duke students who take a medical leave may return two semesters after the semester in which the leave is granted, or as soon as they are deemed healthy enough to resume a full-time course of study, according to the Trinity website. It is unclear what kind of leave Holliday took.

Duke sports information director Art Chase said that the football team will continue to support Holliday in whatever ways the NCAA and school allow on his road to recovery. Holliday was a constant fixture on the sidelines at Duke football home games and also traveled with the team to Charlotte for the Belk Bowl. Holliday told the Star that the coaching staff has offered to let him stay involved with the team.

“The coaches have invited me to help coach the wide receivers,” Holliday told the Star. “I would probably do that because I don’t want to just get rid of football completely in my life.”

Keeley 919-829-4556; Twitter @laurakeeley

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