Canisius College runner Emily Scheck is hoping to overcome the rejection she says she felt from her parents, her college and the NCAA. | Facebook

Update: Emily Scheck’s gofundme page is again accepting donations to help pay her living and school costs.

Update: Canisius College has released a statement that the NCAA will allow Emily Scheck to keep her eligibility and donations.

Earlier this summer, Canisius College cross-country runner Emily Scheck received a text message from her mother that turned her life upside down.

Her mother had found a picture of Sheck and the girl she was dating, and she was horrified by it. Her mother told her that she was disgusting, and that she had to make a choice: come home and get therapy for her same-sex attraction, or be cut out of their lives forever. Sheck let her mother rant, not knowing what to do.

“I really didn’t know how someone should respond to that,” Scheck told Outsports. Yet she knew she didn’t want to have anything to do with some kind of conversion therapy, and she wanted to stay at Canisius preparing with her cross-country team for the season ahead.

Not long after that she came home to a shocker: her car’s license plates had been removed, and her car was full of her childhood belongings from home — awards, plaques, stuffed animals. She had bought her own car, but because her parents were paying for the insurance they had rescinded the payments, her father had driven to Buffalo from their home near Rochester, N.Y., and taken the license plates. He had also removed all of her belongings from their home and stuffed them in her car.

With that came a message that she was never to speak to them or her siblings again.

Suddenly Scheck was left alone, without a family and without support. She had $20 to her name and was getting paid by her jobs every two weeks — she works both at the local Wegmans and has a work-study job on campus, just to stay alive.

She didn’t have a meal plan to rely on for food, and her parents had stuck her with a Discover Card bill of items the family had purchased on a recent vacation. She also hadn’t yet bought books for the semester. She would eventually borrow friends’ books to study for the classes whose books she now couldn’t afford.

Since then Scheck has, through the generosity of friends and strangers, had money raised for her so she can stay in school and have food on the table. Yet now the NCAA may force her to choose between accepting that financial help and maintaining her eligibility to participate in the sport she loves.

“At the start it was definitely tough,” Scheck said about those first few days when she realized she was suddenly on her own without support of family. “I was lucky to be in preseason the first couple of weeks because coach could get us meals in the dining hall.” Yet since then she has struggled to find food, often relying on her girlfriend for dinner. “We’ve had a lot of meals together,” she said.

She brought the plight of her sudden hardship to the coaching staff. Head coach Nate Huckle told Scheck that he would try to help figure out ways to help his young athlete, including housing during breaks and other financial options.

Yet as the days turned into weeks, and the weeks turned into months, Scheck faced a hard truth. Coach Huckle hadn’t come back with any confirmed support, and none was forthcoming anywhere else. Canisius College spokesperson Matt Reitnour said Huckle and the school were trying to figure out how they could help Scheck financially, but “Trying to make things happen in large sums of dollars is not an easy thing. It’s not something anyone had given up on.”

With no support from her parents, she had no ability to pay for the next semester’s tuition — a semester’s full tuition at Canisius College is upwards of $18,000. She was on a partial athletic scholarship, but she was looking at many other costs that would add thousands of dollars.

Plus her car had been sitting in a driveway for months. While she owned the car, she simply had no way of covering for her parents’ withdrawal of insurance funds.

She was stuck.

Her friends noticed their friend in dire financial straits. That’s when her roommate created a gofundme page detailing Scheck’s plight and asking people to donate to their friend, abandoned by her parents simply for being who she is. Her roommate set a goal of raising $5,000.

Within several days she had raised $25,000.

That’s when someone at the school or the NCAA — Scheck isn’t quite sure — took notice. She said she was contacted by an NCAA compliance officer at Canisius College and told she had two options, per his communication with the NCAA: Return every penny and maintain her NCAA eligibility, or keep the money and leave the cross-country team.

Emily Scheck simply wants to overcome her parents disowning her for being gay.

She said the school offered to try to find some way to work with the NCAA to then raise some money all over again, but there were no guarantees. She claims lawyers were going to have to get involved, and there was no assurance she’d come out the other side of it with a penny.

All Sheck wanted was to buy some food, buy some books, pay her tuition and get some insurance for her car, so she wasn’t stuck. Going with the first option — returning the money and just hoping for a solution — made no sense.

So Scheck, along with her roommate, chose door #2: In order to buy food and books, she would have to take the kindness of strangers and leave the team. That was the NCAA rule.

That also, of course, is a public-relations nightmare for Canisius College and the NCAA. Headlines like “NCAA and Catholic college force disowned gay athlete to return donations for food and books” don’t bode well for either.

Yet that’s exactly what happened. A statement sent to Outsports by Canisius College spokesperson Matt Reitnour said:

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. 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.

Canisius also said that they informed Scheck that they would work with her and the NCAA to try to find a solution. That option was simply not viable for Scheck, who has been relying on the generosity of friends for food for the last three months.

“It would run the risk of it not even happening,” Scheck said. “There was no confirmation that we would even have our eligibility reinstated, or that I would get any financial help. There was no security.”

When Outsports reached out to the NCAA for comment and an update on the situation, we were assured by a spokesperson that the NCAA and Canisius College were “currently reviewing all options for the student-athlete.” Reitnour confirmed that the situation was being re-evaluated by everyone involved.

As Scheck tries to find the funds to legally emancipate herself from the parents who have disowned her, deadlines loom. And as of right now, Scheck has no financial option but to abide by NCAA rules, accept the donations sent to her, and forgo her NCAA eligibility to participate in the sport she loves.

For now, her roommate has stopped accepting donations on the gofundme page. Friends and strangers have donated $25,759 so far. And more people are hoping to help this young woman who has been abandoned by her family.

Whether she will be abandoned in the end by her school and the NCAA remains to be seen.

You can find Emily Scheck on Facebook, on Twitter @scheck_emily, or on Instagram @emilyscheck.