Fans, Irsay pitch in to help Matt Howard's parents attend game

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One Final Four-bound family is getting a little help from a friend they've never met.

Matt Howard family includes mom, dad and nine siblings.  All want to cheer him on courtside in Houston this weekend.  But paying for 11 Bulldog fans isn't cheap. 

Their neighbors in Connersville started a fundraiser to help pay their way to the big dance and Wednesday, a big-name Hoosier danced into the effort. Colts owner Jim Irsay dropped a big contribution into the hat Wednesday. A Colts source told us he's writing a check for $3,000.

Matt Howard's father, a long-time Connersville letter carrier, is grateful for the special delivery.

"He's never even met me," says Stan Howard, "and yet he's willing to fly my family to Houston on the basis of what he's seen my son do on the basketball court. That's really amazing."

The Howard's neighbors in Connersville say Matt's folks deserve it.  Barb Isaacs said, "Mr. Irsay is a kind-hearted, giving person and that's what the Howards are."

The Colts' front office says Jim Irsay learned of the family's needs in a tweet describing the Connersville fundraising efforts.

The team says Irsay first offered to send the family on his private jet but was told that could run afoul of NCAA rules. So he opened his checkbook instead.