The Brock Hoffman eligibility saga has been a long, winding process since the NCAA denied his waiver request for immediate eligibility April 23, and frankly it’s one that deserves a conclusion now rather than later.
Since his tweet about the waiver denial blew up on social media, which currently has over 18,000 retweets and 37,000 likes as of the writing of this piece, the scrutiny against the NCAA’s inconsistent transfer guidelines has been at an all-time high. This is especially true considering that Hoffman’s case is eerily similar to that of sophomore tight end Luke Ford’s, who was also denied a waiver request for immediate eligibility this off-season after his decision to transfer to Illinois from Georgia in order to be closer to his family. Ford’s appeal was ultimately upheld, which means he’ll have to sit out for the upcoming season.
“I thought it was an open-and-shut case,” Hoffman said after his waiver denial. “I guess I was a little naive.”
It’s hard to fault Hoffman for his alleged naivete, especially when big-name athletes such as Tate Martell, Justin Fields and Shea Patterson, arguably the most notable cases that people have pointed to in defense of Hoffman’s struggle, faced little to no problems receiving immediate eligibility in search of more playing time.
The difference with those cases falls under the type of waiver request filed by the athletes. The aforementioned athletes found success applying for the general waiver, which has recently been adjusted to soften the requirements for an athlete to transfer.
Hoffman applied for a medical hardship waiver, which was not a part of the recent adjustments made by the NCAA. In fact, part of the NCAA’s reasoning for denying his request was soundly based on its own guidelines that an athlete’s new school has to be within a 100-mile radius of his residence; Hoffman’s home in Statesville, North Carolina, is 105 miles away. It’s a tediously small thing to deny someone based on a 5-mile difference, but it’s a rule that has been in place since 2012 and it’s hard to argue.
The part of the denied waiver that does spark understandable outrage is the second aspect of why the NCAA denied Hoffman’s request: the alleged improvement of Hoffman’s mother Stephanie since her surgery in 2017. Clearly this isn’t something Hoffman would necessarily agree with, as he mentioned in his Twitter post that she still has facial paralysis, hearing loss and eyesight issues. That doesn’t necessarily shout improvement.
The thing about this case is, even as a sports writer, it doesn’t really feel like it’s about football at all. Having Hoffman back in the fold is a nice plus for the team for sure, he took first-team reps and is coming to the team with tons of experience after starting 24 games for Coastal Carolina, but the true concern for Hoffman is a little more human than that. Hoffman not getting immediate eligibility from the NCAA despite leaving Coastal Carolina for very understandable personal reasons feels more like a punishment than a fair ruling.
“It’s been tough, but we only can control what we control, obviously we’d like a resolution not only for us, but for Brock, for his family and everyone else,” Virginia Tech offensive line coach Vance Vice said.
Currently there’s no timetable for a decision on Hoffman’s appeal from the NCAA, but with the season starting in a little over a week, the questions about when Hoffman will get his decision will only continue to arise. It’s clear coach Fuente is tired of talking about the situation as I’m sure most are. The best way to sort out this mess would be to give Hoffman an answer as soon as possible so that everyone involved can move forward and put this saga to a close.