NCAA to pay for players' families travel costs for future Final Fours

Players will now be able to bring family to the biggest weekend of their athletic lives. (Getty Images)

Of all the changes college coaches have cried for in the past decade, this might have been the biggest one. And now it's a victory for them, for their schools, but most importantly, for players' families.

The NCAA has announced a "pilot" program that will pay for the travel for players' families to the Final Four in men's and women's basketball. An immediate exemption was also voted in to allow players' families from Oregon and Ohio State's football teams to travel to next Monday's national champiionship in football, in Arlington, Texas.

Specifically, the College Football Playoff -- which is not tied to the NCAA in any professional way -- will be able "to assist with expenses for family travel" for the Jan. 12 title game. Each football player will be allotted as much as $3,000 for their families, and that money will go toward travel costs (by plane, bus, train or car), hotel rooms and "meal expenses."

For basketball the per-family number goes up to $4,000. 

This has been a long time coming, and is a huge financial effort from the NCAA. It's also one of the most positive news events of Mark Emmert's tenure as NCAA chief.

"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,” Emmert said.

The release from the NCAA adds, "NCAA member schools and conferences also can adopt new rules to provide these family travel expenses on a permanent basis or for other championships."

The 2015 men's Final Four will be held in Indianapolis; the women will play in Tampa.

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning senior writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his eighth season covering college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics,... Full Bio

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