UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham says he and others at the university are looking to find a way to help Ryan Hoffman.
“Your heart goes out to anyone who is homeless and down on their luck,” says Cunningham. “To think that it was a Carolina grad and former football player, it’s just tragic. It’s a sad story.”
The New York Times on Thursday published a profile of Hoffman, a former UNC offensive lineman who is now homeless, living on the streets of Lakeland, Florida.
In the Times piece, Hoffman says he is struggling with cognitive problems that keep him from holding down a job, problems he says stem from his years playing college football in the late 90’s.
Cunningham says there’s an effort underway to bring Hoffman to Chapel Hill to be evaluated by Kevin Guskiewicz, co-director of the Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center at UNC.
“Kevin said ‘I’d love to get him here and provide the services we provide former NFL players and do some testing and see if we can help’,” says Cunningham.
But before that can happen, UNC athletics officials need to clear the plan with the NCAA.
“Part of our process would be, let’s notify our compliance office, let’s have our compliance office communicate with the conference and with the NCAA. That’s from a procedural standpoint,” says Cunningham. “From a human standpoint you just want to do what you can to help somebody, but certainly there are rules you need to follow. So we’re going through those processes.”
Cunningham, along with UNC’s Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Communications Rick Steinbacher, is working out the details. He says they don’t yet have a timeline for action.
In the meantime, a fundraising effort is underway to help Hoffman. You can find out more here: https://my.greatestfan.com/Ryanhoffman