GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- When Florida quarterback Tim Tebow leaves for the Philippines next week, he won't have to worry about the mission trip affecting his NCAA eligibility.
A day after Gators coach Urban Meyer told lawmakers in Tallahassee that Tebow returned for his senior season partly because he was granted a waiver from the NCAA to raise money for the orphanage his father helps out with in the Philippines, the NCAA clarified its position on the matter.
Tebow was not given special permission to raise money for Uncle Dick's Home, said Erik Christianson, director of public and media relations for the NCAA. Tebow always has been allowed to promote the orphanage as long as he abides by guidelines set forth in NCAA bylaw 188.8.131.52, Christianson said in an e-mail Friday.
"There is no waiver involved here," Christianson wrote. "We have worked cooperatively with the University of Florida, the Southeastern Conference and the Tebow family for a few months now to help interpret and apply our bylaws related to extra benefits and promotional activities."
Christianson pointed out that the Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association is a charitable organization that is separate from Uncle Dick's Home. All donations to Uncle Dick's Home go directly to the orphanage and not to Bob Tebow's association or the Tebow family, and no member of the Tebow family serves on the orphanage's board of directors or staff.
So donations to the orphanage from the University of Florida or any of the school's boosters would be allowed under NCAA rules, Christianson said.
NCAA rules prohibit an institution or boosters from providing benefits to a student-athlete or the student-athlete's family that generally aren't available to any student in the general student body.
But NCAA rules allow Tebow and fellow student-athletes to promote educational, charitable or nonprofit entities like the orphanage -- but only if certain conditions are met.
Meyer said Thursday that Tebow's return had a lot to do with getting clarification from the NCAA, but he didn't say when and if Tebow's mission work had been questioned.
"It has nothing to do with self-gratification," Meyer said. "It has something to do with something that he believes in. If you get to know Tim, when he believes in something: watch out."
Tebow said his role in influencing the lives of others was more important to him than trying to make it in the NFL right now.
"I think that's something we all have to keep in mind," Tebow said. "It's not all about me. It's all about who can I help."