College Football & Basketball Families to be Reimbursed for Travel Expenses

Following the trend of sharing broadcast and other revenues with college athletes, the NCAA and College Football Playoff announced they would help athletes’ families with the cost of attending championship games.

CFP is an independent body overseeing college football subject to NCAA rules.  Just after being granted a waiver allowing it to reimburse families for travel, the CFP announced it would provide up to $2,500 to parents or guardians attending Monday’s championship game in Arlington Texas.  Reimbursement is capped at $1,250 per parent or guardian and covers a maximum of two parents or guardians.  The amount will cover hotel accommodations, travel costs, and meals.

Within the same hour, the NCAA announced it would assist the families of basketball players with the cost of attending the Final Four.  The NCAA’s “pilot program” will reimburse families up to $3,000 for those with students making it to the semifinals and $4,000 for those making it to the title game.  The NCAA’s statement did not include a limitation to parents and guardians only, so it remains unclear whether other family members can be reimbursed.

Both programs show the NCAA is reacting to the ever growing pressure to give students a portion of the billions in revenue generated as a result of their work.  This was highlighted recently by Ohio State’s head coach Urban Meyer.  He, along with others, commented on the enormous costs incurred by families to support players.  After the announcement, Meyer reportedly “pumped his fist” and commented that he was “really fired up.”

The cost for CFP, potentially up to $425,000 if all players have two parents or guardians attend, is pittance compared to the revenues generated by television contracts.  In fact, ESPN is paying $470 million per year, for the next 12 seasons, to broadcast the college football playoffs.  Similarly, CBS signed a 14 year, $11billion deal to broadcast the men’s final four.

As pressure builds to compensate college players, it’s likely the NCAA will continue to respond with similar programs and changes.

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