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Boise State grapples with dilemma to help homeless recruit, NCAA will allow waiver

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Antoine Turner, a 21-year old football recruit, has struggled to overcome the odds and adversity in his dream to play college ball/

Antoine Turner (left) with defensive coordinator Brian Crooks (center)
Antoine Turner (left) with defensive coordinator Brian Crooks (center)
Photo courtesy of Hornet Football

UPDATE: The NCAA is allowing Boise State to allow assistance to Antoine Turner.

ORIGINAL STORY: Things haven’t come easy for Turner since his mother died of cancer when he was just a 4-year-old, and the resulting breakup of the family has left him estranged from his father. He has lived a life passed between different families in New Orleans until that city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina.  Soon after, in 2005, he headed out to California. All that could have led him deeply into gang activity, but Turner wants something more out of life. Backed by his girlfriend, Turner has worked hard and capitalized on his athletic abilities to create a platform that will be his educational ticket out of poverty.

That dream began at McDonough High School in Louisiana and has taken him to Fullerton (Calif) College. That was where he lived with his girlfriend’s family and an uncle until government housing regulations forced him to find another home. But by then his football abilities as a 6-3, 275 pound defensive tackle had been established. Turner received interest from Oklahoma, Kansas State, Iowa State, Utah, Washington, and Boise State before committing to the Broncos.

But this self-made young man is still homeless.

Boise State is pursuing a waiver from the NCAA in order to help out a recruit who is currently without a home. Until that ruling, the school’s compliance office is adamant that good intentions or no, there will be no violation of NCAA rules from the university or any of its supporters. Those rules state that no fans or outside parties are allowed to make any donations or lend any financial assistance to a player. In a memo to local Boise television station KTVB, the compliance office clarified the school’s position:

"We need to make it clear to your viewers and Bronco fans that it is NOT permissible within NCAA rules for boosters of Boise State athletics to provide benefits to Mr. Turner. That would include money, loans, gifts, discounts, transportation costs, etc.

"While Mr. Turner’s need is abundantly clear, it is not permissible for Boise State, the athletics department or supporters of the athletics department to assist Mr. Turner at this time. Once Mr. Turner arrives on campus for the start of the summer school program, he will be well taken care of—receiving full tuition, room and board, books, fees etc. In the meantime, the compliance office is exploring a potential waiver with the NCAA that would allow us to provide assistance prior to the start of summer school. We need to make it clear to your viewers and Bronco fans that it is NOT permissible within NCAA rules for boosters of Boise State athletics to provide benefits to Mr. Turner. That would include money, loans, gifts, discounts, transportation costs, etc."

While Boise State is working within the NCAA rules to see what it can to help the homeless recruit, Turner is resolute in his determination to succeed and is still moving forward. Right now he is preparing for his move to Boise in time to start summer courses.