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Hawaii Athletes Sleep in Locker Rooms after Scholarship Delay

Oskar Garcia for the Associated Press (via Huffington Post):

About 60 Hawaii scholarship athletes were delayed nine days in receiving their summer funds, prompting some to sleep in a locker room while waiting for checks totaling about $92,000, university athletics officials said.

Hawaii athletic director Ben Jay told The Associated Press on Thursday that clerical problems delayed processing of the scholarship funds from both the athletics department and the university’s financial aid department. He said the stipends have to be carefully processed to avoid paying wrong amounts — something that’s not as easy as pulling out a checkbook.

Jay and Hawaii take most of the blame for the mix-up but the NCAA gets a shot as well:

Jay said NCAA rules restricted the school’s options to solve the problem, meaning he couldn’t buy the athletes groceries or take them out for meals.

“You could be looking at a potential NCAA violation by doing that,” he said. “You have to look within the limits.”

I have a hard time believing this though. A waiver to pay for housing and meals for athletes during the delay and/or loans for them to pay deposits and rent seems like a slam dunk. That might even be approved as what the NCAA calls a “phone waiver”: meaning a school calls the NCAA and receives verbal permission to do something that is otherwise not allowed by NCAA rules.

A waiver might not even be necessary under the NCAA’s new interpretations philosophy. Say the proposed action is advancing the athletes money to pay their rent and deposit and for groceries. There is essentially no benefit to the athletes; they are actually just getting what they should have gotten but for the NCAA’s error. Not having a place to live and having to eat energy bars instead of real food is a health and safety issue. This seems well within the “green” category under the new interpretation philosophy and Hawaii should have been able to help these athletes even without involving the NCAA.

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