The NCAA Legislative Council took steps Tuesday to make sure Division I student-athletes will be well fed.
The Council decided that athletes, walk-ons and those on scholarship, can receive unlimited meals and snacks in conjunction with their athletics participation. Previously, student athletes received three meals a day or a food stipend.
The decision, which has been in the works for some time, comes a week after guard Shabazz Napier, in the aftermath of Connecticut's victory in the national championship game, said he often went to bed hungry because he couldn't afford food.
Council chair Mary Mulvenna, associate commissioner of the America East Conference, said Tuesday's decisions underscored the commitment to student-athletes.
In a question and answer document included in the Legislative Council agenda distributed prior to Tuesday's meeting, the NCAA said the proposal would allow a school to "determine how to best meet the additional nutritional needs of its student-athletes," specifically citing that something like a late-night meal would be permitted.
The rule wasn't intended to replace a regular student meal plan. In other words, a school couldn't theoretically hire a five-star chef to cater three meals a day just to athletes. Schools can, however, still provide one training table meal per day during the academic year when regular school dining facilities are open. The cost of those training table meals are deducted from an athlete's board allowance.
The key part is when schools are allowed to provide incidental meals.
One of the biggest frustrations of coaches and players over the years was the inability to properly feed athletes during summer conditioning or periods where practice was allowed. The new rule allows for meals or snacks year-round as long as they don't replace a meal otherwise included in the scholarship an athlete gets during summer school. An athlete not enrolled in summer classes, however, would not be covered under this new rule.
The so-called "incidental meals" won't be deducted from the board allowance for athletes, and walk-ons will be allowed to eat the meal as well.
The rules will be finalized only after the Division I Board of Directors meets April 24.
The council also voted to:
•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, including marijuana, during championships from a full season to a half season.
•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.
The adopted proposals are effective Aug. 1, with the exception of the strength and conditioning coach certification requirement. The council members voted to delay until Aug. 1, 2015, to allow coaches time to achieve their certification without their jeopardizing their employment.