Hinsdale South senior guard Brendan Savage is back on the team but not yet back on the court.
Savage, a standout varsity player, is scheduled to participate in his first game of the season Friday at Downers Grove South, according to his mother Erin Savage.
Brendan Savage and several members of his family attended Tuesday’s home victory over Glenbard South, the first game since he was reinstated to the team. Savage did not wear a uniform but sat behind the bench and cheered on his teammates.
Erin Savage sued the school district and several employees last week after her son was cut from the basketball team. Erin Savage alleged that Hinsdale South first-year boys basketball coach Michael Belcaster cut her son from the team after tryouts due to retaliation for her family filling a complaint last season against former coach Michael Moretti.
On Tuesday morning, Erin Savage received news from a Hinsdale Township School District lawyer that Brendan was back on the basketball team. Erin Savage filed a motion Monday asking for a preliminary injunction to force the school to put her son on the basketball team.
The lawsuit hasn’t been dropped. Brendan Savage has missed the first five games of the season, including Tuesday’s victory over Glenbard South.
Several students donned “We want Savage” black T-shirts and hoodies for the home game. Brendan’s older brother, Danny, wore a No. 33 jersey with his last name on the back. Danny Savage, a former standout in football and water polo at Hinsdale South who played water polo at Iona University, sat two rows behind the Hinsdale South bench Tuesday night.
Erin Savage said the school district did not provide any details about whether her son would play Friday.
“They (the school) never contacted me (today),” Erin Savage said after Tuesday’s game. “My son told me Brendan wasn’t allowed to sit on the bench. They made it (that way) by putting other kids there so he wouldn’t have a seat. Brendan texted the coach around four or five (this afternoon) and said he would like to sit on the bench and support my team, but the coach never responded. I assume he will go to practice tomorrow. He’s allowed to. All we can do is hope they can figure it out.”
A two-time all-conference selection, the 6-foot-3 Savage was set to be a key contributor for the Hornets this season. As a junior, Savage averaged 11.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists a game and was among the top returnees from last season’s 11-win team.
After the game, Belcaster was approached by two reporters near the entrance to the gymnasium. Asked several times about how he would work Brendan into the rotation, Belcaster did not address the subject and said he couldn’t hear anything before walking away.
The complaint alleges that Moretti had bullied and humiliated Brendan, which led to an investigation by district officials. The outcome of the investigation proved insufficient evidence to support the bullying accusations. Moretti was replaced by Belcaster, a “close personal friend” of the former coach, the lawsuit states.
The complaint also states Brendan “was considered a standout player on the varsity team” but was not picked for the varsity team in early November.
Sitting halfway up the main bleachers during Tuesday’s game, Erin Savage said she remains perplexed by the entire ordeal.
She said the team had a team meeting Tuesday afternoon without her son.
“The kids on the team are saying they won’t pass him the ball,” Erin Savage said. “These are kids who have come up to my house and been friends with Brendan in years past. I don’t understand what they are being told. … We feel we got this victory, but I don’t want to put Brendan in a position where he loses his mind again. We’ve been down that path.
Erin Savage said “they gave away his jersey and he’s always been No. 21. His sister is 21 (jersey).”
The family has a long line of athletes who attended and played sports at Hinsdale South. Several of Erin Savage’s kids have played sports at Hinsdale South. Brandon Savage’s younger sister, Maeve, is a sophomore forward on the Hornets’ varsity girls basketball team.
Erin Savage said one of the players on the Hornets texted her son telling him “they won’t pass the ball to him.”
“(Brendan) is happy,” Erin Savage said. “He just wants to play basketball. When he came home, I asked him about his jersey and he said he didn’t care. … My kids have played water polo, golf, girls tennis, badminton, swimming, basketball and boys and girls volleyball.”
In the end, even with the news of the lawsuit drawing national attention, the nonconference game Tuesday was no different than any other game. A large student turnout attended the game, but no chants, protests or anything unusual occurred before, during or after the game.