The NCAA will help cover expenses for players’ families to travel to the Men’s and Women’s Final Fours this spring, under a new pilot program announced Tuesday.
A waiver granted by the NCAA also allows the College Football Playoff to assist with expenses for family travel to next week’s national championship game in Arlington, Texas.
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.
“Championship experiences like the Final Four create memories of a lifetime for student-athletes, and we want to make sure their families are there to support and celebrate with them,” said NCAA President Mark Emmert.
“From multiyear scholarships to opportunities to return to school and complete their degree on scholarship, we have been dedicated to further improving the student-athlete experience since our presidential retreat in August 2011,” Emmert added. “Providing travel expenses for student-athletes’ families is another example of this progress.”
Emmert said the pilot program begins with providing more support for the families of student-athletes competing in the Final Fours and College Football Playoff championship. NCAA member schools and conferences also can adopt new rules to provide these family travel expenses on a permanent basis or for other championships.
Mark Lewis, NCAA executive vice president of championships and alliances, said the Division I men’s and women’s basketball committees are dedicated to including student-athlete families as a part of the overall championships experience.
“Providing travel expenses has long been a part of this discussion, and I’m thrilled we were able to move forward with this support,” Lewis said.
During the 2013 Men’s Final Four, the NCAA provided free tickets to student-athlete families and moved their seats behind the respective team benches. During the 2014 Men’s Final Four, the NCAA also hosted a special reception for student-athlete family members.