With a full schedule of classes, homework, studying and football practice, Ray Ray McElrathbey returned to Clemson for his second year with even more responsibility, albeit one with which most Clemson students do not identify.
In June McElrathbey, 19, requested and received temporary custody of his younger brother, Fahmarr, 11. McElrathbey's mother lives in Atlanta, Ga., where she suffers from an addiction to crack cocaine; his father suffers from a gambling problem and lives in Las Vegas, Nev.
What makes McElrathbey's situation particularly unique is that he plays as a redshirt freshman cornerback on Clemson's football team and is a NCAA scholarship athlete. While his scholarship pays for some of McElrathbey's expenses, it is not enough to cover raising an 11-year-old boy.
According to NCAA scholarship recipient stipulations, cannot receive "extra benefits.” This means McElrathbey cannot accept donations of money, clothes or school supplies.
While NCAA's stipulations are strict, special circumstances can be reviewed.
"Conference and NCAA rules generally prohibit benefits to student-athletes beyond a grant-in-aid," said Bob Williams, managing director of public and media relations of NCAA in a press release. "However, individual circumstances can and are taken into consideration in unusual situations."
Clemson University and the Atlantic Coastal Conference feel McElrathbey's situation qualifies as "unusual."
The University made a request to the NCAA to set up a trust fund to accept donations, but according to the NCAA, a trust fund can only be set up in the event of a family death.
NCCA requests a review of situation
On Tuesday the ACC sent a waiver on behalf of Clemson to the NCAA requesting a review of McElrathbey's situation, according to Clemson's athletic spokesman, Tim Bourret.
A recent article in Charleston's "The Post and Courier" elicited a negative response from the public regarding the way the NCAA handled McElrathbey's situation. Bourret said it is unfair to say the NCAA was uncooperative since they did not receive the waiver from the ACC until Tuesday.
McElrathbey has maintained a good attitude while he has had to assimilate his duties as a student, a football player and now a father, according to Bourret.
Tommy Bowden, Clemson football head coach, agrees.
“I could not fathom at 19 years old being a father and going to school with no car,” said Bowden in a press conference Tuesday. "He tries to get active in a local church, tries to do this and tries to do that, and he's raising an 11-year-old."
Bowden said he thinks McElrathbey's solid performance last Saturday when Clemson defeated Florida Atlantic and his performance tomorrow will indicate how distracting his new duties as a father will be. McElrathbey was the special team's most valuable player with two solo tackles and one assisted tackle in last Saturday's game.