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Wednesday, January 26, 2011
NCAA to aid Thomas Robinson

By Andy Katz
ESPN.com

The NCAA has granted a number of waivers from its bylaws, clearing Kansas to aid sophomore forward Thomas Robinson and his 9-year-old sister Jayla after the tragic death of their 43-year-old mother Lisa Robinson Friday.

Lisa Robinson was a single mother raising Jayla in Washington D.C. and had recently lost her parents -- her mother earlier this month and her father five days -- before she suddenly died.

Kansas coach Bill Self , who confirmed Lisa Robinson was 43 years old, not 37 as previously reported, said by phone Wednesday a cause of death hasn't been determined and won't be until results of an autopsy are released next month.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the NCAA said it offered its "deepest sympathies to Thomas Robinson following the tragic events of late in his family. To help support him and his younger sister during this difficult time, the NCAA and the University of Kansas have been working closely together to determine how best to assist during these next several days and beyond."

Under NCAA rules, Kansas was allowed to pay for the funeral of Lisa Robinson, which will be held Thursday at the Antioch Baptist Church in Washington D.C.

The statement went on to say the NCAA cleared Jayla to return to Lawrence with her brother at Kansas' expense.

But Self said there are legal custody issues with Jayla that must be addressed before that can occur.

"Thomas is receiving legal advice from representatives of estate planning and custody," Self said. "There are good people involved and everybody wants to do what is best for Jayla. ...

"The NCAA's concern for student-athlete welfare in this situation has not only been great but quick and responsive," Self said. "We understand there are rules and they've been very good about doing the right thing."

Associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said money and other offers of support have been coming in from around the country.

"Several people have expressed an interest in adopting Jayla," Marchiony said. "People are very concerned. This is truly a tragic situation. But it's all very preliminary at this point. It's really too early to even talk about these things. But people are very concerned."

Robinson chose to play Saturday against Texas, one day after his mother's death and had two points and five rebounds in Kansas' 74-63 loss.

Robinson then returned to Washington D.C. to be with his sister and didn't make the trip with the team to Boulder, where the Jayhawks beat Colorado 82-78 Tuesday night.

Barry Hinson, the former Missouri State coach who is Self's director of basketball operations, accompanied Robinson back to Washington D.C. and has helped him going through the estate and planning Thursday's funeral.

"That's a lot for a 20-year-old kid to deal with," Self said. "It's the saddest thing I've ever seen. He has to go back home and go through pictures and belongings and figure out what to take back."

Self said he's not sure if Robinson will return in time for the Jayhawks' game against Kansas State Saturday, but that his return could lift Robinson's spirits.

"Athletics can help in the healing process," Self said. "We had no gas in the tank against Saturday [after learning of Lisa Robinson's death]. We needed [Tuesday night]. ...

"We hope he comes back Friday but the one reason to stay is to be with his sister and that's an important reason," Self said. "They've got to figure it out and hopefully they can work out a split of time so that she feels comfortable."

Andy Katz is a senior college basketball writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.