The Gainesville Heat will keep playing.
The new semi-pro basketball team, whose continued existence was in doubt after initial owner Joshua Randolph was arrested on numerous charges, including deposit account fraud, theft and forgery, has been able to start its inaugural season after all under new owner and Gainesville resident Rosalind Green, a team press release reported.
The new ownership was permitted by American Basketball Association CEO Joe Newman, who said at the time of Randolph’s arrest that he would work to keep the team active.
“I have a strong passion to own a successful team that is relevant and engaged in the community,” said Green, who has worked at the Georgia Mountains YMCA and the Boys and Girls Club of Hall County. “I would like for the community to know and understand that the Gainesville Heat represents more than just basketball, and we are dedicated to making a true commitment to the community that has done so much for our players.”
Randolph, who started the expansion franchise, was booked into Hall County jail on Oct. 24 and charged with misdemeanor deposit account fraud, two counts of theft, forgery and two counts of felony deposit account fraud.
Some of those charges stem from an Oakwood police case, and others stem from bad check warrants taken out in court.
Oakwood police say Randolph wrote a $300 check with another man’s checkbook to purchase a team uniform, resulting in those two charges.
Newman suspended Randolph as soon as he heard of the charges, but he said that almost immediately he had players and coaches on the team communicating with him to try and keep the team going.
The team’s new associate head coach — Randolph had been head coach as well prior to his arrest — is Gainesville High grad Ariean Wilmont, who played three sports, including basketball, for the Red Elephants.
Teresa Wilmont Payne has been named the team’s new marketing director and manager.
The Heat played its first two home games — both wins — last weekend at the team’s home gym, Jubilee Christian Academy, and will have 10 more home games remaining in the season, which runs through March.
The team hits the road for its next game, at 7 p.m. Saturday in Myrtle Beach, SC to face the South Carolina Warriors.
The team, in partnership with the International Reading Association and the ABA, is also looking to promote reading literacy in the community for youth through a program called Fast Break for Reading to encourage the youth of to read at least 10 minutes a day.