Tom Walter, the baseball coach at Wake Forest University, has donated a kidney to one of his players, freshman outfielder Kevin Jordan.
In April, as a high school senior, Jordan was diagnosed with ANCA Vacsculitis, a type of autoimmune swelling disorder caused by abnormal antibodies. According to the Winston-Salem Journal, Jordan's condition worsened throughout the summer; he required dialysis for more than 18 hours a day and with no members of his family a match, the likelihood of receiving a transplant lessened each day. Monday, a coach he's never played for gifted him with a kidney.
Walter decided to go through with the transplant after learning on the team's first day of practice that he was a match and following a discussion with his family. He told the Journal, it was a no-brainer.
First and foremost, I just wanted to help this young man, Walter told the Journal last week. When we recruit our guys, we talk about family, and we talk about making sacrifices for one another, for our teammates. That's something we take very seriously, and I think this is something that anybody would do for a family member.
School officials said that both Walter and Jordan were recovering at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Walter is expected to recuperate for another week in the hospital before joining his team in Baton Rouge, La. to kick off their season against the Louisiana State Tigers. Jordan has set a goal to return to school in the summer and join the team next season.
However, this story has a potentially dark future, even if both Walter and Jordan make full recoveries. Under NCAA bylaw, article 16, student-athlete shall not receive any extra benefit because of their student-athlete status. The NCAA describes an extra benefit as any special arrangement by an institutional employee or a representative of the institution's athletics interests to provide a student-athlete or the student-athlete's relative or friend a benefit not expressly authorized by NCAA legislation. Furthermore, Receipt of a benefit by student-athletes or their relatives or friends is not a violation of NCAA legislation if it is demonstrated that the same benefit is generally available to the institution's students or their relatives or friends or to a particular segment of the student body (e.g., foreign
students, minority students) determined on a basis unrelated to athletics ability.
It's common sense that this is not an NCAA rules violation. It's a life or death situation. At the same time though, Walter donated a kidney to a player he recruited to play baseball for him, not a student working towards a physics, philosophy, or other degree. The NCAA is draconian, but on the surface, this appears to be a technical violation of NCAA policy.
Requests for comment from the Wake Forest University Athletics Department and the NCAA were not returned as of publishing time.
Update: When asked by IBTimes whether Coach Walter's donation constituted an extra benefit, Steve Shutt, the Assistant Athletic Director, Media Relations at Wake Forest University replied, We spoke with the Atlantic Coast Conference office before Coach Walter decided to go through with it. We are not anticipating an investigation. I think we all answer to a higher authority than the NCAA.
Erik Christianson, Director of Public and Media Relations for the NCAA said, We wish Coach Walter and Kevin Jordan all the best. This wonderful act of compassion and generosity is truly extraordinary, beyond the scope of any rule.