Huntington University's women's basketball team will have a Crawfordsville connection next year.

And it's one that could surprise some people.

Crawfordsville High School graduate and former Athenians' cross country coach Abbie (Thomas) Harts is going back to school.

But she's not only going to get her Bachelor's Degree, the 24-year-old is going to play basketball for the Foresters, too.

Thomas still has 1½ semesters of college eligibility left - and has decided to use them.

Thomas will join Crawfordsville senior Betty Elliott, along with two other Sagamore Athletic Conference players, at the NAIA Division II school located in Huntington, Ind., in the fall.

Thomas decided in February to attend the school and signed her letter of intent to play basketball a couple of weeks ago.

Thomas is the daughter of Crawfordsville assistant track and field coach Tony Thomas.

"I did not have a good college experience the first time and I'm getting to the age where you can finish using up your eligibility. I'm still young enough to use my last one and a half years. I'm lucky enough Huntington was really interested," Thomas said. "I got along really well with their coach. I agreed with lot of her philosophies. I think I'll have a really good experience this time around."

Under head coach Lori Culler, Huntington finished 21-10 this past season - recording an 11-5 (second-place) mark in the Mid-Central College Conference. The Foresters advanced to the NAIA National Tournament but fell in a first-round game to 61-52 to Sterling College (Kan.) in Sioux City, Iowa.

Elliott signed her letter of intent to play back in March. And they join Tri-West senior Sam Ricks and Danville senior Amy Kramer as the four conference players on the team.

Like Elliott, Thomas played under Crawfordsville girls basketball coach Darren Haas while she was there.

She even helped Elliott work out during her sophomore year for Haas, and she helped coach her on the track team.

"I'm real excited. She's a good player," Elliott said. "I'm excited to see what she can do and what we can do together."

Thomas won't be eligible to play for Huntington until after Dec. 15. That's when her 1½ semesters of eligibility officially begins.

Thomas only used up 2½ semesters during her college career.

After graduating from Crawfordsville, she played at Missouri-St. Louis for a year. She chose to leave at the end of the school year and transferred to St. Louis Community College, where she played basketball and soccer for a season there.

But after that school year, she transferred again - and out of sports completely. She decided to attend The Ohio Institute of Photography and Technology in Dayton, Ohio and graduated from there in December of 2006 with an Associate's Degree.

"Eligibility is not by how long you played but by how many semesters or quarters or terms," Thomas said. "You have 10 terms. I have used six and two-thirds."