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Clemson's McElrathbey in academic trouble

CLEMSON, S.C. -- Clemson running back Ray Ray McElrathbey,
who took custody of his 12-year-old brother last year, was
suspended from the team for at least four practices because of
academic concerns.

Coach Tommy Bowden said McElrathbey will return to the team after
spring break if he gets his class work in order.

McElrathbey is raising his brother, Fahmarr, because of their
mother's drug addiction. Bowden was asked if McElrathbey's numerous
responsibilities led to academic problems.

"I think we have been awful patient in that regard," Bowden
said. "We've gone above and beyond the call of duty."

McElrathbey, 20, said he expected to return to the team.

"I've got some academic matters I have to take care of,"
McElrathbey said Saturday through Clemson's sports information
office. "I will take care of those matters and plan to be back at
practice after spring break."

McElrathbey made headlines last fall when he took custody of his
brother and won several humanitarian awards. Last month, he was
presented the 2006 FedEx Orange Bowl-Football Writers' Association
of America Courage Award during Clemson's basketball game with
Duke.

The rising sophomore was not on the field when the Tigers
started spring practice Saturday.

McElrathbey was switched from defensive back to running back
before the Tigers bowl game. He is listed third on Clemson's depth
chart and is expected to see action in behind the Tigers running
stars James Davis and C.J. Spiller.

"It hurt him and the team for McElrathbey to miss the
practices," Bowden said.

The McElrathbey brothers share an apartment and had been living
off Ray Ray's Pell grant, monthly stipend for living off campus and
whatever odd jobs the older brother could pick up between his
course work and football obligations.

After Ray Ray gained custody of Fahmarr last year, Clemson
applied for -- and the NCAA approved -- a waiver of the governing
body's extra benefits rule. That allowed Clemson's coaches,
staffers and their family to help the McElrathbeys with rides to
and from Fahmarr's middle school.

The NCAA also agreed that Clemson could set up a trust fund for
the McElrathbeys, where money donated by well-wishers could be
withdrawn to help Ray Ray raise Fahmarr.

About $50,000 was donated within the first few weeks. The figure
had nearly doubled by Thanksgiving, when trust administrators
stopped making the total public, at the request of Ray Ray
McElrathbey.