It turns out, Urban Meyer has clout. The Ohio State football coach has been on a crusade for at least six months for the NCAA or the College Football Playoff organization to help players' parents cover the cost of attending the new playoff games. Yesterday, both groups did just that.
It turns out, Urban Meyer has clout.
The Ohio State football coach has been on a crusade for at least six months for the NCAA or the College Football Playoff organization to help players' parents cover the cost of attending the new playoff games.
Yesterday, both groups did just that.
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The playoff organization announced that parents or legal guardians attending the championship game between Ohio State and Oregon on Monday in Arlington, Texas, will be reimbursed $1,250 each, with a maximum of $2,500 per family.
"There you go. Nice job," said Meyer, who was told of the reimbursement plan during a news conference just moments after he asked the media to put pressure on the two groups to make it happen. "I am really fired up for that. That made my day."
He credited Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith for getting the ball rolling; in the past two days, Smith has made calls to conference commissioners Jim Delany of the Big Ten and Larry Scott of the Pac-12, plus NCAA officials.
But Smith said it was Meyer's persistence in keeping the idea alive - especially after OSU beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl on Thursday in New Orleans to advance to the championship game - that helped push it through.
"It wouldn't happen without that, and the collective efforts (of the parents involved and the media), because we
weren't the only ones talking about it. Oregon was talking about it as well," Smith said. "The NCAA found a way to make this happen. So I am really appreciative of that."
Several parents of Ohio State players had been pushing for assistance for weeks, including Annie Apple, mother of cornerback Eli Apple.
"I was overwhelmed (by the news)," said Annie Apple of Voorhees, N.J. "I have to be honest with you. Not just because of the dollar amount, but because the NCAA made a real-life decision in real time. They heard us."
Meyer was adamant about helping the parents as soon as the Buckeyes won the Sugar Bowl. He mentioned it in his postgame comments.
"Let's get them to Dallas and watch their sons play in college football history," Meyer said then. "These players who played their hearts out for the Ohio State University, for the Big Ten Conference and for college football. Let's get their families there so they can watch them play."
Bill Hancock, executive director of College Football Playoff, said the organization was glad to arrange the reimbursement after it was given the green light by the NCAA.
"We know how expensive travel can be, so we're pleased to provide assistance to parents or guardians who want to see their sons play in the first College Football Playoff national championship," Hancock said in a news release. "It will make the game even more special for the student-athletes, to know that their family members are receiving this benefit."
The NCAA also announced that, for the first time, families of athletes in the Final Four games of the NCAA's men's and women's basketball tournaments will be reimbursed $3,000, with $1,000 added for the teams that reach the championship games.
"We have to establish a mechanism to show that they came to the game," Smith said. "Our compliance office is doing that now, and in all likelihood, we will do that through the ticket pickup (at the stadium)."
This is a trial run because of the lateness of the approval. Smith said he could see the program evolving to where schools get more involved with parents' travel plans and arranging hotel accommodations, perhaps with the aid of a travel agency "so there's no money exchanged."
But, Smith said, as a "pilot program," the reimbursements are "a good first step."
NCAA president Mark Emmert called the move a step in the right direction.
"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," he said in a news release.
Dispatch Reporter Bill Rabinowitz contributed to this story.