Playoff families to be reimbursed for travel
The College Football Playoff will help pay for the parents and guardians of Ohio State and Oregon football players to travel to the national championship game in North Texas on Monday.
The NCAA granted a waiver Tuesday that allows the College Football Playoff to provide a reimbursement of up to $1,250 per parent or guardian that will cover hotel accommodations, travel and meals.
"This will really help because parents really want to go out and see their kids play," said Ohio State safety Von Bell, who is from Rossville, Georgia. "They make a lot of sacrifices and there's a lot of money spent. Traveling from the South, because they come up here for every game, is a lot. The gas and everything. It's really a blessing to hear that."
Ohio State played last week at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans in the first College Football Playoff semifinal. Oregon played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
The NCAA also announced it will provide a similar reimbursement to the families of athletes who compete in the men's and women's basketball Final Fours as part of a pilot program.
The NCAA will pay up to $3,000 total in travel, hotel and meal expenses for family members of student-athletes who compete in the Final Four. The NCAA will pay up to $4,000 for each of the student-athletes who compete in championship games.
The men's Final Four will be held in Indianapolis this year. The women's Final Four will be held in Tampa, Florida.
At a time when the leaders of college athletics are trying to steer more of the millions in growing revenues generated by big-time sports toward the athletes themselves, this is another example of the NCAA acknowledging that more can be done.
"We applaud the College Football Playoff and the NCAA for recognizing the importance of the families of student-athletes and will continue to support legislation that benefits student-athlete welfare and opportunities for parents to be a part of these special moments with their children," Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens said in a statement.
The issue gained attention this year as the implementation of the College Football Playoff caused parents of athletes who make it to the national championship to consider two big postseason trips. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was among the first and most notable coaches to talk about the issue and call for travel reimbursements for family members.
"That kind of made my day," Meyer said about hearing the NCAA's decision.
"I think it's a good first step," Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said. "The average room cost is about $300. Three nights stay, $900. If you take an $800 flight, which is maybe New York to Dallas, times the number of players. So that's maybe $250,000 per school, so $500,000 for the two schools. I think they can find that money out of the College Football Playoff funds. I think that's a good start."
ESPN is paying $470 million per season over 12 years for the television rights to the college football playoff. That money is distributed among the conferences and does not go through the NCAA.
CBS has a 14-year deal that pays about $11 billion total to the NCAA for the rights to the men's basketball tournament.