Money poured in for gay college athlete shunned by family. She almost couldn’t use it

Emily Scheck, a gay college athlete at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, says family shunned her for having a girlfriend, so friends made a GoFundMe to help her afford school. The NCAA says she can use it.
Emily Scheck, a gay college athlete at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, says family shunned her for having a girlfriend, so friends made a GoFundMe to help her afford school. The NCAA says she can use it. Screenshot from GoFundMe page

Emily Scheck says she had just $20 and no other support system when her family shunned her for having a girlfriend. But that wasn’t the end of her troubles.

Scheck, a 19-year-old student athlete at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, said her mother found a picture of her and her girlfriend online in August — and her mom made her choose between losing her family or going to gay conversion therapy, according to OutSports.

She chose to stay at her college in Buffalo, New York, and to continue practicing with her cross-country team, according to The Buffalo News. The other option was to return to her family’s home in Rochester and instead attend community college classes elsewhere.

Scheck said her mom told her over the phone that “you think the world is going to support you, but you don’t know how the world actually is,” according to The Griffin, the student newspaper for Canisius College. Her father, however, said the family didn’t want conversion therapy but rather just counseling, adding that “we love” and “accept Emily,” according to The Buffalo News.

At first, the financial strain of being shunned wasn’t easy, Scheck told The Buffalo News.

“I couldn’t even get groceries, initially,” she said, according to the newspaper. “I was just really relying on my roommates and my girlfriend.”

She said her father even drove up to her college and took off the license plates on her car, which he filled with her belongings from her family’s home, according to OutSports. Scheck owned the car, but her parents had been covering the cost of insurance for it.

Nate Huckle, head coach of the college’s cross-country team, and the college’s director of athletics and assistant athletic director offered to help Scheck find financial support — but the student athlete told The Griffin that nothing came of their vocal support.

“If they’re going to try and angle it like they’ve trying to help me these past three months, I can’t agree with that,” she told the paper.

So, Scheck says, her friends took matters into their own hands and started a GoFundMe page for the 19-year-old.

It was titled “For Emily, Let her be herself.” Yet while money poured into the account, the NCAA said at first that she couldn’t use any of the money.

A university spokesman and Scheck said the NCAA first gave them two options: Keep the GoFundMe money and leave the cross-country team or refuse to accept the money and stay on the squad, according to The Buffalo News. At first, Scheck quit the team to keep the money, fearing what would happen if she found herself without anything to support her.

She closed the GoFundMe page down and planned to keep around $27,000 that had already been donated, according to The Griffin.

Matt Reitnour, a spokesman for the college, said the NCAA sent them an email explaining why the GoFundMe page violated their rules, according to OutSports.

“After a review by the College’s compliance staff, and following consultation with the NCAA, it was determined that the online crowdfunding webpage was organized and promoted in a manner not permitted under NCAA legislation,” the email read. “Canisius informed the student-athletes that it would be necessary to end the online fundraising effort and work with the website host to return the donations received in order to preserve the student-athlete’s eligibility.”

Then on Friday — after mounting backlash — the NCAA released a statement that Scheck can indeed stay on the team and accept the money on the GoFundMe. The page has amassed over $70,000 by Monday afternoon.

Scheck told The Griffin that the past three months have been a whirlwind.

“I’ve just had to roll into one thing from the next, from my parents finding out and that whole emotional family aspect, I had to go right into schooI,” she said, according to the newspaper. “I went right into work, and then from this came the GoFundMe and all the outrage and the NCAA and it all just happened so quick.”

And as for her family?

“I hope to someday have a relationship again, whatever that means. I think right now, it’s them working on themselves,” Scheck told The Griffin. “It’s hard to forgive and forget.”

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