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NCAA approves unlimited meals and snacks for Division I student-athletes

Apr 15, 2014, 6:11 PM EDT

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On Tuesday, the NCAA announced a reform as the Legislative Council has approved a change that will allow unlimited meals and snacks to all Division I student-athletes, walk-ons included.

The decision will be finalized when the Division I Board of Directors meet on April 24. The change would then go into effect on Aug. 1.

“Today we took action to provide meals to student-athletes incidental to participation,” Council chair Mary Mulvenna said in a statement. “I think the end result is right where it needs to be.”

Several weeks ago, UConn senior point guard Shabazz Napier said, “there are hungry nights that I go to bed and I’m starving.” A week later, CNN posted that story, which immediately gained traction as the Huskies were en route to the National Title. While that statement shined light on the topic again, the proposed change had been in the conversation since last October. Dietitians have been pushing for since the October 2012.

The adoption of the meals legislation finished a conversation that began in the Awards, Benefits, Expenses and Financial Aid Cabinet. Members have worked 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 can be provided from athletics departments is the best way to address the issue.

This is one of five rule changes the council approved on Tuesday. The other four include:

  • Require strength and conditioning coaches to be certified from a nationally accredited certification body;
  • Require a school staff member certified in CPR,  first aid and arterial external defibrillation to be present at all physical, countable athletic activities;
  • Reduce the penalty for a first positive test for street drugs during championships; and
  • Require football players to rest for at least three hours between practices during the preseason. Film review and team meetings will be allowed during this period.

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