College Athlete Was Disowned for Being Gay. Now, Good News

NCAA waives donations rule so Emily Scheck can accept money to help her pay school, living costs
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2018 8:48 AM CST
Updated Nov 24, 2018 12:02 PM CST
College Athlete Was Disowned for Being Gay. Now, Good News
Emily Scheck gets to stay in school, and on the cross-country team, at Canisius.   (Jonathan Nackstrand/OIS/IOC via AP)

When Grace Hausladen started a GoFundMe for her friend and Division I cross-country teammate Emily Scheck, it was for one reason: to raise money for tuition and living expenses at Buffalo's Canisius College after Scheck's family disowned her in August upon finding out she had a girlfriend. The 19-year-old had dismissed her mother's ultimatum to go to therapy and found herself out on her own, with $20 to her name at the time, she tells Outsports. Her parents stopped paying her car insurance and other bills, dumped all her childhood items—stuffed animals, awards—into her car, and instructed her to not talk to them or her siblings again. Her mother texted her, "You disgust me," she tells the Buffalo News. Scheck buckled down, got two jobs, and relied on the kindness of her girlfriend, Justyna Wilkinson, and friends, who offered her food and the books she needed to study.

The fundraiser set up by Hausladen proved a success—it's at over $100,000 as of Saturday—but there was one problem, per NBC News: Under NCAA rules, if the girls accepted the outside funding, they wouldn't be eligible to be on the team anymore. The girls decided Scheck's schooling was too important, so they accepted that fate. Last week, though, the NCAA posted some good news. "Emily Scheck can retain her eligibility and continue to receive GoFundMe donations that assist her with living and educational expenses," the group tweeted, noting NCAA rules allow for waivers if a student has a "significant life event." Canisius College also said it will help Scheck however it can. Her family, meanwhile, insists they accept Scheck and just want her home. "It's a private family matter," her father tells the News. "We love our daughter." Scheck remains wary. (More than $140,000 was raised for a gay student estranged from his family to go to Georgetown.)

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