NCAA approves rule allowing “unlimited meals” to athletes

Shabazz Napier will be playing professional basketball next season, but the 2014-15 UConn Huskies won’t need to go on chicken wing runs any longer if they want more food. The NCAA Legislative Council approved a rule Tuesday allowing scholarship athletes and walk-ons to receive unlimited meals and snacks. The previous rule limited athletes to three meals a day or a food stipend.

A breakdown of the rule, according to, was explained on the NCAA Legislative Council’s agenda entering the meeting.

* Schools can provide a meal or snack incidental to participation outside the playing season. That includes during a school’s vacation period provided the athlete is required to remain on campus for organized practice or competition.

* Unlimited meals and snacks are allowed to athletes in the summer during required weight training, conditioning and skill-related instruction or film review as long as the meal/snack doesn’t replace a meal otherwise included in the summer scholarship.

* The university is not required to deduct the value of a meal or snack incidental to participation from the board allowance of an athlete. Walk-ons and partial scholarship athletes won’t be charged for these incidental meals or snacks, either.

* It’s up to the university to determine how to best meet additional nutritional needs of its athletes, such as another late-night meal. The NCAA agenda added: “However, the proposal was not designed to provide an avenue for institutions to circumvent institutional financial aid limitation.”

* Schools still have the choice to provide one training table meal per day to athletes during the academic year when regular dining facilities are open. The cost of the training table meal must be deducted from an athlete’s board allowance on scholarship. Partial scholarship athletes or walk-ons may purchase one training table meal per day.

* The NCAA said “in general” it’s not permissible for a school to provide a cash allowance instead of an incidental meal. If an athlete is participating in a practice or game, or representing the university off campus, “the institution may provide meals at its discretion from the time the student-athlete is required to report on call until the student-athlete returns to campus.”

NCAA members 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 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.

None of the actions will be final until the Division I Board of Directors meets on April 24.

William Paxton