NCAA eyes changes to meal plan for student-athletes

by Eric Schroeder
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INDIANAPOLIS — The legislative council of the National Collegiate Athletic Association on April 15 proposed a rule that would give Division I student-athletes unlimited meals and snacks in conjunction with their athletics participation. The rule, which would apply to walk-ons as well as scholarship student-athletes, is an effort to meet the nutritional needs of all student-athletes, the NCAA said. Currently, there are 173,457 Division 1 athletes, according to the NCAA.

The provision is in addition to the meal plan provided as part of a full scholarship. Prior to the change, scholarship student-athletes received three meals a day or a food stipend.

“Today, we took action to provide meals to student-athletes incidental to participation,” said Mary Mulvenna, chair of the legislative council and associate commissioner of the America East Conference. “I think the end result is right where it needs to be.”

No action is considered final until the Division I board of directors meets April 24.

The NCAA has been working to find appropriate ways to ensure student-athletes get the nutrition they need without jeopardizing Pell Grants or other federal aid received by the neediest student-athletes. With their vote, members of the council said they believe that loosening NCAA rules on what and when food may be provided from athletics departments is the best way to address the issue.

Although the NCAA has been discussing the changes to its meals rules for months, the topic generated buzz after Shabazz Napier, a basketball player for the Univ. of Connecticut, told reporters covering the NCAA tournament that he sometimes goes to bed “starving” because he can’t afford food. Napier was named the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Final Four following his team’s 60-54 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats.
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