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NCAA Pilot Program to Pay For Student-Athletes' Family Travel

Since the summer, Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer has lobbied for the NCAA to cover parents' travel costs to the College Football Playoff, per The Columbus Dispatch. When his Buckeyes knocked off the Alabama Crimson Tide on New Year's Day to earn a berth in the national title game, Meyer echoed those sentiments.

"My concern, and I think I'm probably going to address it again, is what are we doing for these [families]? Are we going to get their families to Dallas? We should," Meyer told reporters. "That should happen immediately... there should be an immediate committee meeting somewhere [to] say [how do we help] these families that can't afford [this travel]?"

That plea didn't fall upon deaf ears, as it turned out. The NCAA announced Tuesday the launch of a pilot program that will help cover expenses for players' families to travel to the men's and women's Final Four basketball tournaments this spring. It also granted a waiver to the College Football Playoff to do the same for the upcoming title game.

The NCAA shared details of the program in a release on its website:

The NCAA will pay up to $3,000 total in travel, hotel, and meal expenses for family members of each student-athlete who competes in the Final Four semifinal games but don't advance to the championships. The NCAA will pay up to $4,000 in expenses for each of the student-athletes who compete in the men's and women's basketball championship games. The College Football Playoff may provide up to $3,000 in travel expenses for families of each competing student-athlete.

The College Football Playoff announced Tuesday afternoon that it would cover expenses for hotel accommodations, travel reimbursement, and meal expenses for a maximum of two parents or legal guardians per athletes, with a cap of $1,250 for each parent or guardian.

"We know how expensive travel can be, so we're pleased to provide assistance for parents or guardians who want to see their sons play in the first College Football Playoff National Championship," said Bill Hancock, the executive director of the College Football Playoff, in a statement. "It will make the game even more special for the student-athletes to know that their family members are receiving this benefit."

Meyer was pleased following the announcements:

Earlier Tuesday, Ohio State Athlete Director Gene Smith announced his intention to discuss family travel expenses with the athletic directors from Oregon, Alabama, and Florida State, the other three universities involved in the first-ever College Football Playoff. The playoff, which is generating more than $600 million annually in television revenue, per ESPN.com's Brian Bennett, "has enough money [to cover families' travel expenses]," Smith said.

Given the tiny share of revenue needed to cover families' travel expenses—$1,250 per parent or guardian times two per student-athlete times 85 student-athletes per team times two teams equals $425,000 in total—the NCAA and College Football Playoff wisely jumped ahead of the narrative by implementing this pilot program before the clamoring grew too loud.

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