CLEMSON, S.C. -- Clemson received permission Monday from the NCAA to provide assistance to a freshman football player who is taking care of his younger brother.
Ray Ray McElrathbey, 19, has temporary custody of his 11-year-old brother, Fahmarr, because of his mother's continuing drug problems and his father's gambling addiction. The brothers have moved from foster homes and now share an apartment near the Clemson campus.
The school had asked the NCAA for a waiver of its rule prohibiting athletes from obtaining gifts, cash or other benefits not provided to the general student population.
"Once the NCAA became aware of the circumstances, we immediately began working with the Atlantic Coast Conference and Clemson University to address this unique situation," said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president of membership services. "NCAA extra benefit rules are designed to ensure student athletes do not receive financial or other benefits that are not readily available to all students.
"If there is a special circumstance, like this case, the institution and conference may seek a waiver."
McElrathbey will be allowed to receive assistance, such as local transportation and child care for Fahmarr. The two had been living solely off McElrathbey's scholarship.
The most important thing for McElrathbey has been finding people who can pick his brother up from school and getting "some help from grown-ups looking after Fahmarr," Clemson athletic department spokesman Tim Bourret said.
Some of McElrathbey's friends at school stayed with Fahmarr back in South Carolina when the team played at Boston College last weekend.
Now, that task likely will be taken over by the wives of assistant coaches, Bourret said.
The brothers had been living solely off McElrathbey's scholarship, but Clemson plans to establish a trust fund to coordinate financial contributions to help pay for normal living expenses, Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips said in a release.
Bourret said details of how the trust will be set up and how it will collect money have not been finalized, but added that the university is prohibited from coordinating a fundraiser with a football game.
McElrathbey was at practice Monday when the decision was announced and not immediately available for comment.
He has said he sought custody because he was tired of worrying what might happen to Fahmarr if he lived with their mother in Atlanta.
"I wasn't going to let him go back to a foster home, back to the system," McElrathbey said.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press