by Kent Sterling
The great Pauly Balst called and texted this morning demanding that something be done to help Boise State football recruit Antoine Turner. The kid is homeless, and living in a car until he is allowed to report to campus.
“We need to put him up until he gets to report to Boise. Get a hold of somebody, and we can do it right under the NCAA’s noses at your place in the home town of the NCAA,” Balst frantically pleaded.
Research commenced, and wheels were put in motion to provide all assistance necessary. Then the NCAA did the right thing. They approved a waiver that will allow Turner to head to the land of blue turf prior to the pre-prescibed date for incoming athletes to report.
For those who missed the story, Turner has a difficult relationship with his dad, his mother died from cancer when he was four, and Hurricane Katrina killed his uncle. That left him on park benches before enrolling at Fullerton Junior College, where he either lived in his girlfriends car or a cheap hotel (when he could afford one) after government regulations required he leave his girlfriend’s place because of government subsidized housing regulations.
KTVB reporter Jay Tust did the initial story that featured extended interviews with the apparently guileless Turner, whose life has required remarkable strength in overcoming adversity.
Someone needed to do something, Balst insisted, and the NCAA must have felt the same way.
We spend a lot of time bitching and moaning about the NCAA, their arcane rules, and tectonic pace in changing them. The bureaucratic hijinx the members of the NCAA require of its oversight organization can be among the most embarrassing inside or outside of sports. It’s easy to mock them because they embody all that is worthy of mockery.
But today, the NCAA acted quickly and properly. Enforcing a doctrine that would require a sweet kid to live in a car for an additional two weeks when with the stroke of a pen they could relieve his pain and potential peril would have been insane.
Good for the NCAA. There might be hope for logic to invade college athletics after all.
Balst is less than thrilled that he and I will not be responsible for straightening out this mess, but NCAA President Mark Emmert mounted his white horse before we even saddled ours.