Virginia Tech football coach Justin Fuente had elected to withhold public comment about the transfer saga of offensive lineman Brock Hoffman until the NCAA made a final determination on the junior’s appeal for immediate eligibility this season.
Less than a week after an announcement from the school revealed Hoffman would not be permitted to play until 2020, Fuente voiced his great displeasure about the NCAA’s handling of the situation during his weekly news conference Monday in Blacksburg.
“In my estimation, he went about this thing the right way and was penalized for it,” Fuente said. “And I think that’s unfortunate. When you look at the decision, that was one thing, and then you look at the process with which we got to this decision, that’s another thing.
“The process, to say that it’s disappointing, would be an understatement.”
Hoffman transferred from Coastal Carolina this year to be closer to his mother, who had a noncancerous brain tumor removed before his freshman season. She continues to deal with complications, and Hoffman was seeking a family hardship waiver to avoid sitting out this year. The NCAA can grant a player such a waiver at its discretion in the case of a family emergency, among other mitigating circumstances.
Hoffman indicated in April the NCAA had denied his initial request because his family home was located five miles outside the 100-mile radius of Virginia Tech and because his mother’s condition had improved when he was enrolled at Coastal Carolina.
The Hoffman family’s home is in Statesville, N.C., roughly two hours south of the Virginia Tech campus.
“What we put that family through, what the NCAA put that family through in terms of requesting information,” Fuente said, “chasing their tail for lack of a better term, constantly.”
A factor in the appeal denial, according to reports, was that the request to transfer two years after his mother’s procedure did not come quickly enough for the NCAA.
Hoffman’s mother underwent surgery to remove the tumor in January 2017.
“Every time [the family] provided feedback [when the NCAA] requested new and different information,” Fuente said. “The family [was] doing everything they [could] to provide that information and then again [was] requested different subjects and different questions.
“And then ultimately having it come down to the timing of his decision to leave is pretty disappointing.”
Hoffman is redshirting this season and will have two years of eligibility remaining when he becomes eligible in 2020.
“This is a young man who, like I said, stuck with this team, that tried to make it work, that tried to go do things, that tried the commute, that tried to not leave his guys and ultimately was penalized for that,” Fuente said. “I think it’s disappointing, but I think we can learn a lot from Brock.”