Men's Basketball, WVU Sports

Josh Eilert: RaeQuan Battle’s eligibility situation with WVU is not dead

MORGANTOWN — The afternoon gathering came at Suburban Lanes in Morgantown, and what was a day of giving thanks also turned into a much needed day of rest and getting away from reality for a while for the WVU men’s basketball team.

Players slept in after returning from Fort Myers, Fla. early Thanksgiving Day morning, and then it was time to eat and bowl.

“It certainly wasn’t me,” WVU head coach Josh Eilert replied when asked who won the bowling match. “I was experimenting with some different spins. I took a (loss) to my son, I know that. I had to pay him some cash on the side. When you get to the point where they’re old enough to beat you, that’s a hit on your old ego.”


WVU, too, took a hit of sorts at the Fort Myers Tip-Off, losing two games to SMU and Virginia. Bouncing back from those setbacks will be the reality the Mountaineers (2-3) will have to face again when they hit the practice floor Friday.

Their situation remains the same. Guards Kerr Kriisa (suspended) and RaeQuan Battle (eligibility denied) and forward Akok Akok (medical issue) can only give support from the sidelines and not on the court, meaning WVU will continue to play with a shortened rotation for the time being.

That could change over time and Eilert remains optimistic about the impact Kriisa will bring once he returns from his suspension on Dec. 16, as well as possibly getting Battle and Akok back.

“I haven’t lost all hope for RaeQuan,” Eilert said. “I still think there’s a possibility for RaeQuan. I hope things change in that regard. Maybe some of these tests going on with Akok can give us an opportunity to see him back on the court in some fashion. RaeQuan’s situation is certainly not dead.”

Battle’s appeal for immediate eligibility was denied Tuesday by the NCAA Committee for Legislative Relief. Eilert said after the loss against Virginia the situation is now in the hands of Battle’s family lawyers, who could bring a lawsuit against the NCAA and ask a public court for the guard’s reinstatement.

The issue there, though, is time, as in how quickly could a lawsuit and a judgement actually come?

If it were to drag out, would it be worth it for Battle to be reinstated and use his final season of college eligibility to play in just eight or nine games?

“I’ve thought about that a lot,” Eilert said. “If it is something that’s drug out too long, there will be a decision on what’s best for RaeQuan. That would be a decision I would have to make with RaeQuan.”

Eilert said the concern now is how Battle deals with the situation.

“From my perspective, what’s best for RaeQuan is not happening by the NCAA,” Eilert said. “It’s a shame to see a kid who thrives on hope and thrives on having the game of basketball in his life; it’s dragging on him. It’s a huge drag on him.

“He’s starting to lose that hope and I worry like hell for RaeQuan and his mind set. It’s sad. It’s really sad.”

For certain, the only thing Eilert can count on is having Kriisa return on Dec. 16, but even then, the Mountaineers still face depth challenges.

“There’s plenty of challenges still,” Eilert said. “I see down the road, we get some help with Kerr, definitely. Does that entirely help our depth? It doesn’t hurt anything whatsoever.

“I think he’ll help us get better shots and he’ll create us some better shots. To bring more depth at the guard position and a guy who has been so proven. The last two years, he’s led the Pac-12 in assists, so to have a guy like that create for people is going to be extremely valuable to our offense.”