Tom Maayan’s college basketball career has been put on indefinite hold this week after the sophomore guard at Seton Hall learned the Israeli Defense Forces would not grant him an exemption from obligatory military service.
Last Tuesday was Maayan’s last game with the New Jersey school, and the home team sent him off with 71-55 win over NJIT, reports CBS Sports. Coming off the bench, Maayan earned an assist and a rebound, but went 0-2 from the field.
Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard told The Star-Ledger that Maayan’s teammates took the news of his leaving hard.
“He has an opportunity to get back home and further his career and take care of his obligations to the military,” Willard told the paper.
“It sucks,” he said. “The locker room was upset when I told them.”
The announcement ends what Star-Ledger reporter Brendan Prunty described as the “ongoing saga” surrounding the 20-year-old Maayan’s fate.
All Israeli men over the age of 18 are required to serve three years in the military, and all women must serve two years. The co-ed spent several months this year training with the Israeli armed forces, but returned to the US after securing a rare exemption, reports the Star-Ledger.
However, once back in New Jersey Maayan learned his good fortune was short lived. According to army officials, the coveted exemption had only been extended for 120 days, meaning Maayan was expected to return to his military post by January 2nd, according to The New York Times.
“Tommy has been and will always be a beloved member of the Seton Hall community,” Coach Willard told The Times. “We will certainly miss him, and while we understand and respect his responsibility to serve his country, we are disappointed with the timing.”
Maayan’s uncle David Fuchs said he believes the Israeli government may have been reluctant to grant the collegiate player further exemptions because it was skeptical of the young man’s successes at Seton Hall, a Catholic school of around 5,500 undergraduates with a top-tier basketball program in the NCAA Division I Big East Conference.
While the decision means a basketball career is almost definitely out of the picture, Maaayan, who holds Canadian as well as Israeli citizenship, told The Times that he never even considered a drastic third option: ignoring his Israeli obligations and being banned from the country.
“I was raised in Israel most of my life,” Maayan said. “All my family, my friends, live over there. I really love that country. I couldn’t imagine not being able to go back there.”