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Mitch Albom, an award-winning columnist, apologized Thursday to readers of the Detroit Free Press for incorrectly reporting that two former Michigan State players were at Saturday's Final Four game.

Albom said he based the column on what former Michigan State players Mateen Cleaves and Jason Richardson told him they planned to do. He said he wrote the column in the past tense, as if the events already had happened, because the story had to be filed Friday afternoon -- a day before the game -- but would appear Sunday.

The Free Press said in a correction Thursday that Cleaves and Richardson, who are now in the NBA, were not at the game against North Carolina because of scheduling conflicts.

Albom said in his column Thursday: "You can't write that something happened that didn't.

"We -- the editors and I -- got caught in an assumption that shouldn't have happened. It won't again."

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