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Texas A&M;

Fund helps Aggies reunite with mothers

Three international players to have mom in stands for Senior Day

01:26 AM CST on Wednesday, February 28, 2007

By RACHEL COHEN / The Dallas Morning News

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Antanas Kavaliauskas intended to play coy, sending his mother in Lithuania a text message that said she was taking a trip but not revealing the destination.

"I didn't want to tell her before she gets her ticket," said Kavaliauskas, "but I couldn't stop. I couldn't help myself. I had to tell her."


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She was coming to the U.S. to see her son play college basketball for the first time.

Kavaliauskas feared that would never happen. But in response to an article in The Dallas Morning News last month about Kavaliauskas' family, fans inquired about raising money for such a trip.

NCAA rules prohibit that, but the interest prompted A&M's compliance office to inform coaches that the NCAA-financed Student-Athlete Opportunity Fund could be utilized, said David Batson, the compliance office director. Athletic department officials decided that flying in the mothers of three international basketball players for their Senior Days was a prudent expenditure.

A&M receives more than $100,000 annually for the 5-year-old fund, which can pay for services ranging from clothing to medical treatment to travel for a relative's funeral.

Women's basketball player Lenka Zimova's mother will join her from Slovakia for tonight's game against Texas. Kavaliauskas' teammate Marlon Pompey will welcome his mother from Toronto for Saturday's contest against Missouri.

Kavaliauskas, 22, has seen his mother twice in Lithuania in the 3 ½ years since he came to the U.S. Her 13-hour flight will take her through Amsterdam to Houston, and she will arrive Thursday night. She'll stay until Monday, and Kavaliauskas said he plans to take her out to dinner and to the mall. He's already bought her a necklace.

"I saved some money over Christmas to make her feel like she's special to me," he said.

In the meantime, he must clean his apartment and get his roommates – teammates Josh Carter, Chinemelu Elonu and Chris Chapman – to tidy up their stuff.