Stevie Tu’ikolovatu was just drafted in the seventh round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after playing a year at USC, where he was the school’s 2016 defensive MVP and the MVP of the Rose Bowl. He also spent two months living out of a car and an SUV after he transferred from Utah—with his wife joining him after the first three weeks—because, well, here’s Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Bay Times to explain:
The problem was that until Tu’ikolovatu was officially enrolled at USC, NCAA rules prohibited the school from giving him benefits, such as housing. But he wanted to get out to Los Angeles to begin working out. So, away he went, no real plan.
He wound up sleeping in his car. For two months. His idea. Eventually, his parents delivered his mom’s 2004 brown Chevy Suburban to Los Angeles. They didn’t know their son would use it as an apartment.
By all indications, the Tu’ikolovatus made the most of their situation, using public beach facilities to bathe and preparing food on a makeshift grill made from wood and aluminum foil. “It teaches you not to be selfish,” Tu’ikolovatu told Fennelly. “It teaches you not to take life so seriously. It teaches you how to love.”
It all makes for a nice story in the end. But if I have this right, it was OK for Tu’ikolovatu to work out in L.A. before he enrolled, and it would have been OK had he stayed with teammates, but USC providing him with housing during that time would have been a violation of NCAA bylaws. Amateurism or some such. Just a reminder: The Pac-12 has a $3 billion television agreement with Fox and ESPN.