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When NCAA says no, Howard’s hometown steps up

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Playing in the Final Four is usually a once-in-a-lifetime deal. Butler was lucky enough last year to play in Indianapolis, but this year’s Houston venue is a bit tougher trip for families to afford.

Any booster willing to help those families isn’t allowed, either. Against NCAA rules.

For example: Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay offered to fly Matt Howard’s family to Houston, but the school nixed it. So he instead donated to a fund started by the town of Connorsville, Ind., (Howard’s hometown). $3,000 later, the family can go to Houston to watch Howard play.

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(Something similar happened for the family of VCU’s Toby Veal, too. Read the details here.)

NCAA president Mark Emmert told USA Today that’s helping families with expenses such as attending games is something he’s open to exploring other options. Hopeful, right?

Then again, he hardly sounded open to it when he spoke to PBS earlier this month for a special on the “Money & March Madness; If everyone else is profiting from the multibillion dollar college sports business, why shouldn’t the athletes?”. From a lengthy Q&A:

Q: One of the things that former players reflected on — these are NBA players — is that many of their teammates watching March Madness, their families couldn’t afford to come to the games. They can’t take money from boosters to pay for their hotel bills or airfare, and the NCAA won’t pay for it either. They get two free tickets. Is that true?

A: The NCAA does not provide travel benefits for families.

Q: So if they can’t afford it themselves, they can’t see their children playing in the stadium or playing in the arena in March Madness?

A: I’m not sure what — is that a question or a statement?

Q: I mean, their son cannot solicit money from someone —

A: That’s right. We do not want student-athletes soliciting money. That’s a fact.

Q: I mean, I think it would surprise a lot of people watching these games that, particularly in the Final Four, that the families can’t afford to come, yet there’s $700 million in revenue coming into the NCAA as part of this broadcast.

A: Well, I don’t know the extent to which families can’t afford to come to those games. I mean, you’re saying it as if this is a widespread phenomenon, and I’d be fascinated to know what the extent of that problem really is.

The complete special can be seen here.

I don’t have a proper answer to this. There’s a slippery slope involved if boosters start offering things to families of players, but surely there’s a way to make exceptions for special events. It’s a start.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Sherrod sets consecutive field goals record as Yale beats Columbia 86-72

Yale forward Brandon Sherrod (35) comes down with an offensive rebound between SMU's Markus Kennedy (5), Nic Moore (11) and Shake Milton (1) diuring the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) Brandon Sherrod scored 25 points — and set the Division I single-season record for consecutive field goals made — to help Yale beat Columbia 86-72 Friday and take over sole possession of first place in the Ivy League standings.

Justin Sears added 27 points for the Bulldogs (14-5, 5-0), who have won nine in a row, their longest win streak since closing the 1961-62 regular season with nine-straight wins.

Sherrod made his first five field-goal attempts, extending his streak of consecutive field goals made to 30 and breaking the Division I single-season record of 26 straight previously held by Eastern Michigan’s James Thompson and Bowling Green’s Torian Oglesby.

He hadn’t missed a field goal since January 16th.

Two foul shots by Sherrod sparked a 12-0 run by Yale that made it 72-58 with 3:40 left.

The Bulldogs made 14 of 16 free throws in the final three minutes to seal it.

Maodo Lo had 21 points and a career-high seven steals for Columbia (15-7, 4-1), which had its six-game win streak snapped.

Missouri suspends two players following drug paraphernalia citations

Missouri forward Jakeenan Gant (23) reacts after being called for a foul during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Missouri on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, in Athens, Ga. (AJ Reynolds/Athens Banner-Herald via AP) MAGS OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
Jakeenan Gant (AJ Reynolds/Athens Banner-Herald via AP)
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As if this season wasn’t going poorly enough for Missouri, the Tigers suspended two players on Friday after the pair received citations for possession of drug paraphernalia.

Forwards Jakeenan Gant and Russell Woods were suspended from the program as a result of the citations, according to a release.

“Student-athletes Jakeenan Gant and Russell Woods were notified earlier today they have been suspended for tomorrow’s game at Alabama, per athletic department policy,” the statement read. “Their status with the program will be reevaluated next week.”

The suspension stems from some terrible luck for the two players, who live with two other people they were randomly assigned in an apartment complex off campus, a source told NBC Sports. One of those two roommates was being investigated by police for a robbery that occurred on December 9th, and when the cops showed up to raid the apartment on January 15th, they found two “marijuana smoking devices” in the bedrooms of each of the players.

The players probably shouldn’t be smoking weed, but that is a tough way to get caught with your marijuana smoking devices.

Missouri has already been banned from the 2016 postseason following an NCAA investigation into violations committed by the program during the 2013-14 season.

Missouri is 1-8 in the SEC and 8-14 on the season.