When it was announced in April that legislation introduced during the fall that would grant programs more freedom in how they go about feeding their athletes, many expressed their approval of the NCAA’s decision. But in the weeks that have followed schools and conferences alike have asked a similar question: how much food is too much?
That may seem like a silly question considering the fact that the NCAA was allowing schools to figure out how much they should feed their athletes, but there’s apparently been a real concern about the possibility of running afoul of NCAA rules without the governing body letting the membership know what’s permissible and what could be considered an “extra benefit.”
Wednesday the NCAA offered up a simple answer to the inquiries: that’s up for each school to decide.
Consistent with the deregulatory nature of this rule change and recognizing the uniqueness of institutional meal plans and polices, institutions and conferences have the discretion to provide student-athletes other meals or snacks as they deem appropriate and consistent with institutional policies and financial aid regulations. As adopted, the legislation does not permit institutions to avoid applying the financial aid legislation. For example, meals and snacks provided as benefits incidental to participation in intercollegiate athletics are not intended to replace meals that would normally be provided through a dining plan or an off-campus board stipend.
The snacks and meals that programs will be allowed to provide beginning on August 1 aren’t meant to replace the meals that are included in the scholarship package an athlete receives. The question now is whether or not conferences will look to establish their own guidelines, or if schools simply go about deciding on their own (which is the intention of the NCAA’s to deregulate the distribution of food) what’s adequate.
It may seem silly to have schools asking these questions, but it’s understandable that they want to be 100% clear as to what they’re allowed to give athletes once the rule goes into effect.