Holloway, who averaged a Big South Conference-best 18.5 points per game for the Chants after transferring from Wabash Valley (Ill.) College, was suspended indefinitely Feb. 17, and the university later revealed in a statement that it had been made aware of allegations late last summer and self-reported those allegations to the NCAA.
Speaking Thursday, Holloway confirmed that the investigation — or at least part of it — concerned a Coastal Carolina shirt he received, and he defended himself of any wrongdoing during his time in Conway.
“That’s what it’s basically over — t-shirts and money and stuff,” he said. “They were accusing me of getting money and stuff to come here and play. It wasn’t true at all.”
Holloway said he repaid the value of the shirt and denies receiving any money from the program. He said he couldn’t comment on how much money he repaid for the shirt and did not want to share many details because the investigation was still ongoing.
“I thought I was going to get reinstated,” he said. “I paid for the stuff. I mean, after I did that, I thought I was going to be cleared.”
In response to a Freedom of Information request submitted by The Sun News, Coastal Carolina released an e-mail dated Nov. 14 from Renee Madison — identified in a New York Times report on the CCU investigation as an associate director for NCAA enforcement — to university counsel Tim Meacham, coordinating on-campus interviews.
The e-mail requested interviews with nine people over two days, although the names were redacted in the copy provided to The Sun News.
Reached on her cell phone Thursday evening, Madison referred all questions to NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osburn, who could not be reached for comment.
Coastal Carolina’s Freedom of Information response also noted that the university’s application to the NCAA for Holloway’s reinstatement was withdrawn on Feb. 21 – just several days after the suspension was announced.
Holloway said he had not officially heard anything about his status for next season before making his decision to sign with the agency.
“I’m sure if I would have stayed and stuck out with it, I could have played, sat out the first [few] games of the season,” he said.
Instead, he has decided to move on and turn his attentions to his future.
“After all this, I felt like I could play pro,” he said. “I’ve been feeling I could play pro this whole year. I wasn’t going to consider it until after my senior year. Unfortunately, I have to go early.”
CCU athletic director Hunter Yurachek said through associate athletic director for media relations Mike Cawood that he had not seen any official paperwork yet but that Holloway had indicated to the athletic administration his intentions to sign with an agent. Because the NCAA investigation remains ongoing, Yurachek could not comment further.
Martha Hunn, director of news and public affairs for CCU, also said the university would be unable to comment.
As Coastal Carolina’s leading scorer and second-leading rebounder, Holloway helped the team to a 22-game winning streak – at the time, the longest active winning streak in Division I basketball – that ended in his final game before the suspension.
His Speaking over the phone Thursday, his frustration with the situation was clear.
“I was really disappointed,” he said. “I’d been with the team the whole year, and at the end of the season the NCAA comes and takes everything I worked my whole life to get to in Division I basketball. They just come and take it away from me like that. It was very disappointing for me personally.”
He watched from the bench as his team then lost in the Big South championship game, ending the Chants’ quest for an NCAA tournament bid.
“It was hard for me to not be out there playing,” he said. “I should have been out there playing because I didn’t do anything wrong. I couldn’t understand that. I didn’t do anything wrong. It was hurting everybody that I couldn’t be out there playing.”
He said after being suspended, he was talking to the NCAA about every other day for two to three weeks.
“All I know is when I came here, I didn’t do anything wrong,” Holloway said. “I came here, did everything the right way, everything I was supposed to do. All I know is that at the end of the year, I just get suspended for nothing basically.”
“I didn’t get any money,” he reiterated, when asked.
Holloway said he is still on campus at Coastal Carolina, still enrolled and attending classes and hopes to finish out the semester. Meanwhile, he’s ready to see what options are out there for him as a professional.
With the help of the agency – his picture is already on the Three Eye Sports web site along with other clients – Holloway expects to work out for NBA teams at pre-draft camps and would also consider playing overseas.
“To be honest, I’m pretty sure I can get on with a team,” Holloway said. “I’ve been feeling I can play with the best of the best for the longest time, and this is my chance to do it.”