By Brian Murphy
UPDATE, Aug. 5 — One last note on this case: The NCAA has published a story about the confusion, calling it "a teachable moment."
Andy Staples of SI.com has written about this subject — nailed it.
UPDATE, 5:51 p.m. — Boise State will seek a waiver from the NCAA so that its coaches can contact the family of football recruit Emil Smith, who died in a car accident last month in California.
Athletic department spokesman Max Corbet said there was some confusion in the department about the timing and effect of the waiver process.
"Hindsight being 20-20, we probably should have done it," Corbet said. "There was confusion on our part about how quickly we would have been able to get a waiver. ... We didn't realize that it could be done immediately."
I wrote a story about the NCAA's rules and their effect on Boise State's handling of the death of football recruit Emil Smith. Here is that story, which appeared in Wednesday's papers.
Thursday, I e-mailed with NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson.
Here is what he said in a statement to the Idaho Statesman:
"Statements claiming there are no exceptions to NCAA rules limiting contact to or providing support for the family of deceased prospective student-athletes are erroneous. The NCAA has a long-standing waiver process in place that allows for exceptions from general Association bylaws based on specific situations.
"Boise State University contacted the NCAA on July 19 regarding providing support to the family. The NCAA compliance staff informed the university on July 20 it could seek a waiver and there is considerable past precedent for granting such waivers. The university chose not to seek a waiver, which would have been granted immediately. In the past 12 months alone, the NCAA has received and granted five waivers to institutions during similar difficult and unfortunate circumstances."
Boise State Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance Scott Hobbs told me last week that the circumstances were different for this case.
"I am providing a synopsis of a waiver that was filed three years ago by an institution in a similar circumstance (but you can see a few differences in the fact pattern)," Hobbs wrote in an e-mail last week.
I asked specifically about a waiver in our conversation. Hobbs said last week they looked at "3 or 4 of the waivers that had been filed" and "based on circumstances, none of us fit within that criteria."
Hobbs told me that Boise State did not contact the NCAA because the new compliance director in the WAC had just come from the NCAA.
"The whole gist of it is whether or not the prospect had signed a National Letter of Intent. If he had, then all the rules that go along with commenting on his athletic ability and how he could have contributed to Bronco football would have kicked in," Hobbs said. "... That is the line of delineation."
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