Homeless after Katrina and in college, football player wins - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

NCAA violation: Homeless Katrina victim and football player can't get help from public

Classes begin for Antoine Turner on June 9 at Boise State. (Source: WikiMedia Commons) Classes begin for Antoine Turner on June 9 at Boise State. (Source: WikiMedia Commons)

A college football player whose life was turned upside down after Hurricane Katrina is homeless and not eligible for public help because of NCAA rules.

Antoine Turner, 21, grew up in the Lower Ninth Ward. His mother died when he four years old and he did not have a good relationship with his father. Turner was also involved in gang activity, he told Idaho television station KTVB.

After the storm, Turner continued running errands for gang members until he discovered football. He told KTVB he was talented enough to play in college, but he did not have the grades to play in the NCAA. The 6'3", 280-pound defensive end landed Fullerton Junior College in California.

"I brought a suitcase and a dream," Turner said in the report.

He did not have any money or family to help him give him a place to stay, so he lived on the streets and slept on park benches.

Finally, he was able to move in with his girlfriend's family. He lived on and off with them for a year. Turner eventually earned a chance to play football at a NCAA Division 1 program, Boise State.

But, six weeks before his transfer to Boise St. on June 6, Turner was homeless again. He was living in a government subsidized house that was not his. He was forced to leave due to government regulations.

KTVB ran his story and there was an outpouring of support for Turner.

But, not so fast. Under NCAA regulations, public donations could make him ineligible to play college football.

Boise State sent the following statement to KTVB:

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.

- Boise State compliance

The compliance office is trying to get a waiver from the NCAA in an effort to keep Turner off of the street. He is staying in California until May 23 when he graduates from Fullerton Junior College. He is scheduled to arrive in Boise on June 6.

Turner told KTVB that Boise State officials are trying to bring him to campus earlier than originally scheduled. The NCAA tweeted Wednesday afternoon "After Boise State's request last night, the school may provide immediate assistance to football student-athlete Antoine Turner."

Turner said he did not mind the rough ride. It has a happy ending. He will receive full tuition, room and board, and everything else that comes with a college scholarship.

"I don't have to beg for anything anymore," he told KTVB.

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