Holliday’s return to Duke on hold

Jan. 14, 2013 @ 10:47 PM

Blair Holliday’s return to Duke will have to wait a few more months.
The Blue Devils football player, who nearly died after a personal watercraft accident on July 4, will not return to classes this semester as he had hoped.
Duke’s policy on students returning from a medical leave from classes stipulate the student must wait two semesters before resuming classes full-time. Holliday sought a waiver from that rule, but Duke’s Office of Student Records denied the request.
So Holliday, who was on the sidelines for Duke’s Belk Bowl appearance in Charlotte on Dec. 27 has returned to his southern California home.
“He was really disappointed. He tried to not get out of bed, but I made him,” Blair’s mother, Leslie Holliday, told the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. “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.”
Last summer, Holliday was enjoying the Fourth of July holiday on Lake Tillery in Stanly County when the personal watercraft he was piloting collided with the one driven by fellow Duke wide receiver Jamison Crowder.
Crowder’s personal watercraft bounced off Holliday’s and struck Holliday in the head. Knocked unconscious and floating in the water, Holliday was helped to shore where a nursing student, Chelsea Gibbons, administered CPR until emergency personnel arrived.
Holliday was airlifted to UNC Hospitals where he was in intensive care throughout July. At one point, he developed pneumonia that nearly took his life.
But in August, he improved enough that he relocated to the Shepherd Center, a world-renowned rehabilitation facility for brain injury patients, in Atlanta. He’s made dramatic improvement since then.
On Sept. 15, he returned to Duke for a football game with N.C. Central and took part in the pregame coin flip.
When his doctors at the Shepherd Center decided he had improved enough to continue his rehab at a less-intensive facility, Holliday intended to return to Durham. He hoped to begin taking classes again this semester.
But, even though Holliday carried a 3.75 GPA as a psychology major, university officials decided he needed more time before returning.
No one from the school would comment Monday on Holliday’s status, citing federal student privacy laws.
According to the procedures listed on Duke’s website under “Leave of Absence: Medical, returning,” the Office of Student Returns (OSR) has the final say.
“The decision will take a number of factors into considerations, including the student’s prior medical history as well as how responsible the student has been in conducting both his/her academic and medical affairs before going out on the leave,” the policy states.
The OSR takes into consideration application essays, letters of support and medical documentation from the student’s healthcare provider.