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
"I want to thank the Clemson family for all their support in
this situation. That includes my teammates and the Clemson student
body," McElrathbey said after practice Monday. "I can't tell you
how many students came up to me and said they were willing to
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.
"That will be great for my brother and relieve me of some
worries about providing for him," McElrathbey said.
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
Now, that task likely will be taken over by the wives of
assistant coaches, Bourret said.
"I might be more excited about the ability of the Clemson
athletic department staff being able to give Fahmarr a ride to and
from school, and to be able to take care of him when I am on the
road with the team," McElrathbey said. "That will solve a lot of
problems. That was a constant worry."
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
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
He has said he sought custody because he was tired of worrying
what might happen to Fahmarr if he lived with their mother in
"I wasn't going to let him go back to a foster home, back to
the system," McElrathbey said.