Men's Basketball, WVU Sports

If RaeQuan Battle is not cleared, WVU will need several players to step up and fill the void

MORGANTOWN — While remaining optimistic that RaeQuan Battle may still be able to play at WVU this season, Josh Eilert is in full gear when it comes to a Plan B.

Battle, a 6-foot-5 guard who the Mountaineers have high hopes for, was denied a waiver for immediate eligibility on Monday by the NCAA.

WVU is currently in the process of appealing that decision to the NCAA Committee for Legislative Relief, which will render a final verdict on the case.

“I was very disappointed, but I wouldn’t say I was shocked with the result,” Eilert said Wednesday during a press conference. “It looks like a lot of these are being denied. It seems like the success rate has a lot more to do with the appeals process. I am still very optimistic they will do right by him.”

Eilert said he and members of the athletic department would meet later Wednesday to go over Battle’s case. He said the NCAA supplied some information as to why it denied Battle’s waiver, but “it wasn’t a lot”

As far as the appeal, Eilert said there wouldn’t be much new information provided to the review board.

“To my knowledge, it’s more about having a fresh set of eyes,” looking at the case,” Eilert said. “It’s more of a group of your peers instead of the NCAA that takes a look in the appeals process. There’s not much that changes from the file.

“Certainly I think you put another stamp of your summary on it and you submit it.”

Rather than NCAA personnel making the final decision, the Committee for Legislative Relief is made up of seven members with ties to actual university athletic departments and conferences.

WVU’s argument for Battle’s waiver centers around a mental health angle, that the senior needs basketball in his life to help provide a sense or normality and stability.

“RaeQuan is such a great individual and a very positive person despite all the challenges he’s had in his life,” Eilert said. “RaeQuan needs basketball in his life, he really does.”

Battle’s background as an American Indian with the Tulalip Tribe in Washington is filled with tragedy.

In 2014, a school shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School saw four victims gunned down before the shooter took his own life. Battle was related to the shooter.

Since then, basketball has been an outlet for Battle, much as Eilert tried to convey Wednesday.

“To not be able to compete, he loses some of that optimism. I worry for him,” Eilert said. “Certainly, it is a challenge for his mental health. That’s what I worry about the most, not having that competition. It’s a sad situation.”

The Mountaineers have formed a plan in case Battle is not cleared. Going back to preseason practices, Eilert said other players were being prepared for such a situation.

“We have a Plan B,” Eilert said. “You have to look at things differently offensively, where everybody else is going to have to step up and be more of a threat.

“You’re not going to just replace him with one guy, it’s a combination. Certain guys who are pass-first guys will probably have to look to take a shot a little more. Certain guys who come off the bench are going to have to take advantage of that responsibility in that we’re going to rely on to win games. It’s a group effort.”