WSU clarifies Sorenson situation, says GoFundMe page OK now that school is a sponsor of page

CONFUSION HAS SWIRLED surrounding the GoFundMe page set up for Riley Sorenson’s family after tragedy struck at the Sun Bowl -- is it OK for boosters to donate? Could Sorenson lose eligibility if his family benefited from the GoFundMe campaign? WSU associate director of athletics for compliance, John Lucier, issued a statement on Saturday clarifying the school’s position and answering those questions.

“From the moment we became aware of the GoFundMe account for Riley, we have been in contact with multiple people to ensure everything is done in the best interest of Riley and his family, while still following NCAA guidelines,” said Lucier. “At this point, with appropriate cooperation of all involved parties, it is permissible for all concerned to contribute to the fund that has been established to assist the Sorenson family.”

Just before last Saturday’s Sun Bowl, Sorenson’s father, Bart, suffered a heart attack. He remains hospitalized in a coma, with the family remaining in El Paso. Earlier this week, the wife of a Sun Bowl board member created the GoFundMe page for Sorenson’s family, using a photo of Sorenson, the starting center for Washington State. 

“Parties related to the Sun Bowl, with the best intentions for the family at heart, and without the knowledge of Cougar Athletics, created a GoFundMe account to assist the family with expenses related to the situation. While well meaning, the efforts at the time were not in compliance with NCAA rules,” WSU said in the release.

In order to be compliant in the eyes of the NCAA, Washington State needed to be a sponsor of the page -- which the school has now done, WSU SID told

“Lucier has worked diligently with the Sun Bowl, the Pac-12 Conference and the NCAA to ensure proper procedures have been put in place to assist the family,” the statement reads. “Under NCAA bylaw NCAA, if an NCAA school is involved, the name, image and likeness of the student-athlete can be used to help raise money for medical emergencies. The bylaw states that fundraisers for student-athletes (or their family members) are permissible under the following extreme circumstances:

•    Extreme circumstances should be extraordinary in the result of events beyond the student-athlete's control (e.g., life-threatening illness, natural disaster);
•    The proceeds must be designated for a specific purpose (e.g., payment of medical bills, purchase of medical equipment, replacement of items lost in a fire, etc.)
•    The proceeds may be given directly to the beneficiaries, with receipt kept on file by the institution, which must include the amount of expenses incurred and the total amount received; and
•    The excess proceeds must be given to a not-for-profit organization with the receipt kept on file by the institution.”

The most recent check of the GoFundMe page shows that $55,990 has been raised. The original goal was $50,000. April Lamphere Rystad, who started the page, upped the amount to $150,000 after the initial goal was met.  You can find the page HERE.

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