A year ago, I attended the annual Directors of Football Operations national meeting. In two days of sitting in that Fort Worth hotel ballroom, the most prolonged, most passionate discussion was the DFO's collective frustration at the NCAA's arcane rules for feeding athletes. DFOs from schools around the country expressed their frustration at not being able to feed their athletes when they have the means to do so. Many that spoke up wanted to feed their entire rosters (scholarship and walk-on players) three meals a day for 365 days a year, but the NCAA wouldn't let them.
That might change soon, and DFOs have Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier to thank for it. "There are hungry nights that I go to bed and I'm starving," Napier said following the Huskies' national championship win last week. The comment went viral, and now the NCAA is prepared to do something about it.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the NCAA Division I Legislative Council will meet Tuesday to consider a proposal permitting schools to feed their athletes "pretty much whenever and wherever they want."
The Journal points to the example of George Washington University, an urban school without many on-campus dining option. Players can leave campus with their school-issued meal card, but it doesn't last the entire semester. The school asked the NCAA for permission to build an athletes-only dining hall, but the NCAA denied it.
This is the world the NCAA has been living in, but that's about to change. The stomachs of student-athletes across the nation will thank them.
PM Update: The NCAA has altered their training table policy, allowing for unlimited meals and snacks for scholarship players and walk-ons in conjunction with their athletic participation.
From the NCAA release:
Division I student-athletes can receive unlimited meals and snacks in conjunction with their athletics participation, the Legislative Council decided Tuesday. The rule, which applies to walk-ons as well as scholarship student-athletes, is an effort to meet the nutritional needs of all student-athletes.
The provision of meals approved today is in addition to the meal plan provided as part of a full scholarship. Prior to this change, scholarship student-athletes received three meals a day or a food stipend.
Council chair Mary Mulvenna, associate commissioner of the America East Conference, said Tuesday’s decisions underscored the commitment to student-athletes.
“Today we took action to provide meals to student-athletes incidental to participation,” Mulvenna said. “I think the end result is right where it needs to be.”
More changes were also announced Tuesday. See the full list here.