When Boise State recruit Emil Smith died in a car accident last month, the Broncos coaching staff wanted to reach out to his family.
But the school's assistant athletic director for compliance told the Idaho Statesman that the school was restricted from doing anything because of NCAA rules. Scott Hobbs cited NCAA bylaws that state schools aren't allowed to comment on prospective players until they sign letters of intent; another that said coaches weren't allowed to call because this is a period when calls between coaches and players/family members aren't permitted; and another that limits the amount a school can spend on a donation/token of support in the event of death.
But NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson said Wednesday in a statement to ESPN.com that Boise State could have applied for a waiver and been allowed to reach out to the family. Instead, he says the school chose not to:
"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."