If ever there were the achievement of reaching a marquee sports event should be tied to families, the NCAA tournament would surely be it.
But these are college kids who aren’t compensated for their work and their parents often can’t afford to get to the tournament to watch a youngster play, particularly with qualifying for the tournament and learning where a team would play decided on short notice.
“One of my kids — I’m not going to mention who it is — his parents would like to come,” Houston Coach Kelvin Sampson said Thursday (via the Houston Chronicle). “The only way they could come would be to drive and then they would have to get a hotel room possibly for Friday and Saturday. For a lot of people that’s not a big deal. That’s a big deal for that family. They don’t have the money to do that.”
Sampson’s team was sent to Tulsa, around 500 miles from Houston. Players are put up in hotel rooms, of course, but their families are not.
“I’ve had families ask me, ‘Can I sleep on my son’s floor, in his room?’ ” Sampson said. “Think about that now. That’s my life. That’s not unusual for me. ‘Can I sleep on his floor?’ Because they don’t have the money to pay for a room.”
Sampson stopped short of echoing ESPN’s Dick Vitale, who said it was high time the NCAA paid players. Sampson merely asked for some common sense and compassion from a billion-dollar organization.
“When you look around at how big this industry has become, why can’t we figure that out?” Sampson said. “I’m not saying give them this, or give them that. I’m saying that when young men get to the NCAA tournament, let’s find a way to get their parents and their brothers and sisters a plane ticket and a hotel room. I don’t think that’s asking too much.”
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