The Virginia Tech football team opened their 2019 season Saturday against Boston College and Brock Hoffman had hoped to be part of the action for the Hokies.
Hoffman, an offensive lineman, transferred from Coastal Carolina to Tech’s Blacksburg campus in part to anchor the Hokies’ interior line.
Mostly, though, Hoffman wanted to help his ailing mother and hoped the NCAA, college athletics’ governing body, would show compassion.
As we well know, the NCAA has no compassion. Hoffman’s application to play immediately was denied and his appeal was also turned down.
As a result, Hoffman will have to sit out this season and won’t be eligible to play until next year, which is the usual pattern when an athlete tries to go from one Division I school to another.
This is, to be certain, not the worst news Brock Hoffman has received. That would have been the day more than two years ago when Hoffman and his family were told by doctors that his mother, Stephanie, would require surgery to remove an acoustic neuroma, a non-cancerous brain tumor.
That news landed shortly after Brock Hoffman arrived at Coastal Carolina in Conway, SC, near Myrtle Beach and a little over 200 miles from his hometown, Statesville, NC, which is just north of Charlotte.
Stephanie Hoffman came through the surgery, but continues to suffer from facial paralysis, hearing loss and impaired eyesight.
So, after two seasons at Coastal, Brock, a talented center, sought to find a school closer to home where he could continue playing football while helping to take care of his mom.
Virginia Tech, a two-hour drive from Statesville, was happy to accept Brock Hoffman and to give him as much time as needed to help tend to his mom.
All that was missing was a waiver from the NCAA from the one-year hold on transfers. The Hoffmans were optimistic that with the recent loosening of that rule for players now at schools like Ohio State, North Carolina State and Miami, Brock’s application would be seen favorably by the powers that be.
That application was supplemented by pictures, videos and X-rays, all to demonstrate that even with her husband, Brian, present, Stephanie Hoffman needed her son.
Instead, NCAA officials, who never talked to the Hoffmans, denied Brock’s request which was submitted in March.
Their rationale? Virginia Tech is 105 miles away from Statesville, five miles over its 100-mile radius for medical hardship cases.
The other stated reason was that Stephanie Hoffman’s condition had improved. Now, while she is no longer facing death, Stephanie Hoffman still has not been cleared to drive.
And, indeed, Brock drove her to some of her appointments during this spring and summer.
Maybe the positive to take away from all this is that Stephanie Hoffman will have another year to improve in time to see Brock play next fall.
That’s admittedly not much, but when you’re dealing with the NCAA, you take what you can get.
And that’s how I see it for this week.