I do not typically break news on Money Players Blog, but this one is too good to pass on...
The NCAA--or perhaps its member conferences--is allowing schools to pick up the hotel tabs of the parents of players participating in the NCAA Men's Final Four.
How did I find this out? A few days before the Final Four a parent told me. I was a bit surprised, but I probed a little more. He read the email from the athletic department informing him that the school would, in fact, pick up the hotel tab at the Final Four.
Just to make sure, I spoke with an athletic administrator who corroborated the story. When I asked who approved this, I was told it came from the conference office with the understanding that all four schools were doing the same.
For years I've advocated that the NCAA should subsidize tournament travel. Why? Because it's the right thing to do. Think about it: The NCAA rakes in roughly $771 million PER YEAR from its television deal with CBS/TNT/TBS/Tru. The players get an opportunity to get an education and they great training and coaching. Parents? Well, they get to foot the bill for whatever the NCAA says cannot be covered by a full scholarship. The NCAA rattles off all the reasons why they cannot.
In reality, the NCAA can afford to pay. They just don't want to. Why don't they subsidize the travel of players' families? For starters, there's no money, amateurism, level playing field, Title IX, blah blah blah.
Instead, the NCAA would rather the families of those who make the Final Four possible pay--either with hard-earned cash or by credit card.
Schools picking up a $1,000 hotel tab is a nice gesture. I applaud the who ever did this. Does this mean I get to write something positive about the NCAA?
Well, not exactly. When I asked Ronnie Ramos, NCAA Managing Dir. of Digital Communications, he said, "Schools can reserve rooms at discounted rates, but not pay." Wow. The NCAA is denying it provided a similar extra benefit that has tripped up many college athletes every single year. Usually it's the agents who allegedly foot the bill. That's rich with irony.
Still this is terrific news, no matter how it went down. The NCAA should provide some sweet extra for the players and their families. Of course, they may not want the public to know about this. Why? Perhaps because it might not be kosher. Also, players might, heaven forbid, ask for more. First, hotel rooms for players' parents, then what?
The rate for a New Orleans hotel was approximately $250/night. Assume all 52 players' families (number of allowable basketball scholarships x four teams) to advantage of this offer and stayed four nights. The bill: $13,000 per team or $52,000 total. Chump change to the NCAA, but huge for the players' parents.