In a release Monday morning the University of Michigan men’s basketball program announced Austin Hatch will alter his role with the Wolverines, moving to a medical scholarship, as well as an undergraduate student assistant.
"This is, and has been, a very difficult decision; one that we have been discussing with Austin over the last few months," Michigan coach John Beilein said in a statement. "Together, we made this decision at the end of the season and have been waiting for approval from the Big Ten for his status change. With the request for a medical exemption waiver approved (Apr. 27), we are ready to move forward with the next steps in Austin's career."
The news comes following a very successful freshman season at Michigan with Hatch appearing in five games, also notching his first career point in a December win over Coppin State.
"Over the past year, we closely observed Austin's academic and athletic progress,” Beilein said. “In the end, Austin and our staff agree that the waiver is the proper next step. This change allows Austin to devote the necessary time he needs to be successful in his studies and obtain a Michigan degree. 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.
"What makes this move equally important is, with NCAA rules, it allows Austin to continue to be a valuable asset to our team as a leader, mentor and assistant,” added Beilein. “As a student assistant coach, Austin will be allowed to continue to be engaged in our practice and training and to travel with us when it can fit into his academic schedule. The only real change will be that he will no longer be on our active roster or allowed to play in games.
"Austin remains an important part of our program and culture, even if we do not have that chance to see him compete again."
For Hatch, this journey is only the beginning.
Surviving two separate plane crashes as a youth, taking the lives of his mother, father, stepmother and siblings, Hatch’s recovery on and off the court has been nothing short of a miracle.
"Basketball has always been a huge part of my life, however, it is what I play, not who I am," said Hatch. "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.
"As I have progressed through this first season, I know that I am not where I want to be, both academically and athletically. 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.
"Coach Beilein, the staff and my teammates have been so understanding of my situation. They have supported me through everything I have been through and I now view them as part of my extended family. My words cannot, and would not, adequately express my gratitude for all they have done and continue to do for me.
"I am honored to be, and will be, a part of the Michigan Basketball program going forward -- in whatever capacity my studies allow me to be. I am a Michigan Wolverine for life. Again, I am honored and truly grateful that I am in a position to say that."
With Hatch’s altered role in the program, Michigan now possesses one more scholarship for the upcoming 2015-16 season.