By now, everyone has heard about the tough times facing Kansas sophomore power forward Thomas Robinson. Robinson lost his Grandmother, Grandfather, and most recently his Mother in just under a calendar month.
What makes this tragic tale even more difficult is the fact that Robinson has a nine year old sister, who is now the only immediate family member either has. Robinson was already the man of the house so to speak, as his late mother was raising the two children alone.
Robinson now faces many difficult decisions on how to move forward in his life. He has a nine year old sister to provide for, and a promising basketball career to think of. Basketball pales in comparison to the challenges of raising a young sibling. He must now consider what is in both their best interests, without violating NCAA regulations.
The NCAA has been extremely inconsistent of late in application of their by-laws. The Jayhawks have had their own experience with NCAA governance recently, having to wait nearly an entire semester to learn of the eligibility of heralded freshman Josh Selby.
In Selby's case, the NCAA ruled that he received extra benefits from a long-time family friend. That friend, Robert "Bay" Frazier is the business manager of Carmelo Anthony. Frazier is reported to have known Selby's mother since elementary school, and was involved in Selby's life long before basketball stardom.
Later in the year, (2010) The NCAA ruled in favor of Cam Newton, in what appeared to be a pay-to-play scheme attempted by his father. While Newton is said to have no knowledge of the scheme, the NCAA certainly has more to learn about the Newton case as it is still under investigation.
Opinions vary in the Newton and Selby cases, and there are many more examples of how NCAA rules seem to trump common sense in their application of justice. Lack of a playoff in the top division of college football is one, but that is for another story.
According to NCAA by-laws, scholarship athletes may not be employed while on scholarship. They also may not receive any extra benefits, which can be described as anything above normal expenses covered by their scholarship.
For Thomas Robinson, now charged with raising his young sister, he would be in direct conflict with NCAA governance to do what is best for his family. As things are right now, if Robinson decides to continue his basketball career at Kansas, he will not be able to provide for his family and be within NCAA rules.
The Jayhawk Nation has shown its' collective colors in support of Robinson, with thousands of Internet messages, offers of financial support, and scholarship funds for his sister. The university has even had offers of becoming a legal guardian for Robinson's sister.
With all of the concern for Thomas and his sister, the NCAA must become involved and quickly help take care of a student athlete. Robinson and his sister have had a tough start to 2011. The NCAA must set aside their usual nonsensical governing practices and allow the Jayhawk Nation to embrace Thomas in support of his personal tragedies.
The NCAA has had many "misses" in their attempt to govern a multi-billion dollar industry that is college athletics. They now have an opportunity to make provisions in their rules that would allow Robinson to get the help he needs at this moment.
Thomas Robinson will continue to stand strong. He is now the head of a household at an early age. He is going to do the right thing and care for his sister no matter the outcome of ongoing discussions. The NCAA must do the right thing too,...help.