Eli Holman is no cautionary tale

Don’t close your eyes when the Detroit Titans are introduced tonight in front of the crowd at Calihan Hall.  Take it in.

For allegedly assaulting three frat boys, Holman missed much of Detroit's non-conference schedule. An appropriate response.

Ray McCallum Jr., Chase Simon, Jason Calliste, Doug Anderson and LeMarcus Lowe will trot out as the starting lineup for the Titans, but they won’t be the five with the most minutes.

Barring foul trouble, the player with the most minutes at the center spot in tonight’s game will be Eli Holman.

Eli Holman, I say.  Since coming back from “indefinite leave,” Eli Holman and the Detroit Titans are 9-6, sitting at 7-6 in the conference and in sixth place, setting themselves up for a home game in the conference tournament.

In case you need a refresher, Eli Holman went on indefinite leave after allegedly assaulting three members of a frat house on Detroit’s campus back in September, breaking one kid’s nose.

The story went down like this. One of the basketball players at a frat party was hanging on pipes in the basement. After asking the player repeatedly to not hang from the pipes, Holman assaulted one of the students.  Fearing for their safety, the fraternity brothers fled, with Holman attacking two more, eventually knocking one to the ground and breaking his nose.

It was at this point that Holman’s teammates restrained him, and the members of the Titans’ basketball team left the scene.  Holman did not commit any other crimes that night.

Holman slams home the ball. Would you like to see that fist cave in your nose?

In case you’re wondering, that is Aggravated Assault in the state of Michigan.  What are the penalties for this, you ask?  I just so happened to stumble across them using my super Google powers:

Aggravated assault is a misdemeanor in Michigan. It is defined by Michigan statute as an assault, without a weapon, that results in a serious or aggravated injury.

I’d certainly consider a broken nose to be serious or aggravated injury.  The fact that Holman’s attack was put through with little provocation and he needed to be restrained from continuing to pummel a defenseless frat boy is all I need to know that this wasn’t your run of the mill “kid talks smack, guy punches kid, end of story.”  Holman had little provocation, then proceeded to chase and assault three fraternity brothers during the incident.

This was reported in the Varsity News, UDM’s student newspaper.  The same paper reported that the student with the broken nose was holding off legal action pending the response by the university.

So, what was the response by the university?

Eli Holman took an “indefinite leave of absence” from the program.  He ended up missing ten games (the Titans have played 25 so far), coming back to the program before the St. John’s game, but first appearing on the bench in the Titans’ match-up with Western Michigan, a game in which Holman scored 21 points and pulled down seven rebounds.

It was the day of the St. John’s game, when word had spread of Holman’s return, that I sent an e-mail to Detroit’s AD Keri Gaither to ask her about Holman’s status.

Her response:

Hi Jimmy,

Thanks for your support & interest in Titan Athletics.

I wish I could give you a definite answer but the truth is, I don’t know. We are all hoping to have Eli return as soon as possible.

Again, thanks for your support.


The first and third sentences are the stock answer that writers love to get.  The middle one, where she addresses the question.

She doesn’t know.

The athletic director? Doesn’t know?  What kind of world is this?

When Torre Johnson got drunk and hit his girlfriend, he was immediately apologetic and cowered in a closet to avoid further spats.  He was off the team by noon the next day.

The one time I met him in person, Eli Holman seemed like a genuinely happy-go-lucky guy. But demeanor in front of fans is no excuse for actions away from the cameras.

Eli Holman attacked three frat boys, in a scene with many eyewitnesses, and had to be pulled off one that had been pinned to the ground and was absorbing blows.  He got a two-month vacation from the program and although he isn’t starting, he’s played starter’s minutes in almost all of the 15 games he has appeared in.

For misdemeanor Aggravated Assault in Michigan, the punishment is up to one year in prison and $1,000 in fines.  With three counts, Holman should have been looking at up to three years of prison time.  He’s lucky he doesn’t have prior convictions, because those would come with a possible “enhanced sentence.”

Of course, just because he doesn’t have prior convictions doesn’t mean it’s the first time Holman has exhibited violent behavior.  He left Indiana after a verbal spat with Tom Crean (totally understandable, Tan Tommy is a douche) which culminated in him knocking over a potted plant.  Last year, he missed a game for suspension after punching a UIC player in the groin.

If you ask me, Holman is too much like a kid.  Frustrated with your role on the team? Temper tantrum. Angry that the game isn’t going the way it should? Punch the guy in the balls. Don’t like the frat boy pushing you around? Push him til he doesn’t push back.

This is not the behavior of someone who deserves a full-ride scholarship to a reputable NCAA D-I university.

Essentially, Holman missed the part of the schedule that matters least – non-conference.  He came back when the Titans needed him most, and he’s been back ever since.  The Titans are 9-6, 7-4 in conference since his return.

The worst part about it, other than the alleged assault itself, is the enabling of Holman by Detroit Titans Athletics.

What do Ray McCallum Sr., Keri Gaither and the rest of the Titans tell us with their actions in this situation?

Victories mean more than justice.

Here’s to hoping the Black and Gold serve some up tonight.


  1. Max Mercy

    February 10, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    The hypocrisy here is hilarious. Kaylon Williams ENDANGERED LIVES. He blew nearly three times the legal limit, THEN RAN FROM THE COPS. And he was suspended for one non-Division I game. One. Eli Holman’s transgression was far less serious and life-threatening than Kaylon Williams’ transgression, and his punishment was far greater. UW-Milwaukee should be ashamed of itself, and you should be, too.

    • Jimmy Lemke

      February 10, 2012 at 11:45 pm

      Tell me, what would Eli Holman have done if no one had restrained him? Given the guy a hug and a band-aid?

  2. Max Mercy

    February 11, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    And what would Kaylon Williams have done if the police dogs hadn’t caught up to him? Whether or not Eli Holman’s got some issues — clearly, he does — doesn’t change the fact that you’re a total hypocrite for bashing Detroit as an institution for giving Holman a 10-game ban and completely looking the other way when Milwaukee doesn’t even give Kaylon Williams a slap on the wrist for a FAR more serious offense.

    If you ask me, Holman and Williams both should have lost their scholarships and roster spots. But at least Detroit handed down a punishment. Milwaukee did absolutely nothing.

  3. Jimmy Lemke

    February 12, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    He would have made it home? He was only a quarter mile from his destination. I think you’re also naive in assuming that all Kaylon did was sit out one game. When pressed, Detroit’s AD told me that she didn’t know what Holman did to get back on the team, which tells me that he did nothing – if he did, UDM would WANT that to be a part of the report to show that Holman realized he made a mistake and was making amends.

    Kaylon Williams had to do far more than sit out one game to earn his way back on the court. The coaches just felt that his punishment should be tailored to him personally and not hurt the team. And before you jump on me for that, I’m working on it.

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