Student-athletes may get unlimited meals

The National Collegiate Athletic Association Legislative Council approved a few new “well-being rules” on April 15 that can be made final when the Division I Board of Directors meets Thursday.

Among the changes is that student-athletes can receive unlimited meals and snacks instead of the three meals a day or stipend previously in place. This was an attempt to “meet the nutritional needs of all student-athletes.”

Several Eastern Michigan University student-athletes talked to the Eastern Echo about the potential new rule changes and its impact. (Editor’s Note: Some of the words were changed to keep the identities of the athletes protected.)

From unnamed student-athletes:

“I completely approve of the NCAA Athletic Commission for having unlimited meals for Division I athletes. Half of the time the amount of money they give you is not even enough to live off of. After paying $500 for rent each month along with gas and groceries, the money doesn’t even make it until the end of the semester. Three meals a day does not meet the nutritional needs of student-athletes. And not to mention the walk-on athletes who have to pay all expenses for food out-of-pocket. Bus trips are extremely hard, especially when having to get off and compete and then drive home that night. There have been multiple times when I have been hungry on trips. Yes, I bring my own snacks as do most of my teammates but I do not feel as though we should have to. Snacks and meals should be provided for student-athletes at the expense of the school in return for us competing. I can afford a bag of chips but in no way does going to the gas station across the street of a hotel meet the nutritional needs of a student-athlete. And what about the student-athletes who can’t afford that bag of chips? Some student-athletes would not even be at college if it weren’t for having a scholarship because they cannot afford school. At the same time, the budgets are so tight on trips that we are often fed pizza and similar meals that provided zero nutritional value. There have even been times when we have been asked to split a six-inch sub. It blows my mind that this was even allowed. Because of this, I strongly feel as though Division I student-athletes, on scholarship and not on scholarship, should be provided with unlimited meals and snacks.”

“I think it’s nice because us athletes do need more food at times because we don’t get the normal breakfast, lunch and dinner with our schedules. All summer, we were waking up at 5 a.m. and had to eat and get to practice at six so then we get done and it’s like a second breakfast we need then throughout the day. We do so many different things, whether it’s practice or meetings and so I think it’s great we get extra meals because I know I got hungry a lot more than the three meals a day.”

Former EMU women’s basketball player Chelsea Hite talked about what the new rule could bring to current athletes.

“Having unlimited meals is pretty much a dream come true,” Hite said. “As a former athlete living in the dorms, we got three meal plans a day. On Saturdays, we got two meal plans and Sundays, we only received one. Having unlimited amounts of meals would have definitely been nice! With that being said, when people know you have meal plans or flex, they ask you to spot them a meal. Now that there are potentially unlimited meal plans, I feel like a lot of people are going to be hitting up athletes for food. Just saying, but I do think it is a good idea. As far as the term ‘going hungry’ goes…we definitely did not go hungry, but towards the end of the semester, I know a lot of people struggled with money, myself included. When money is tight, you tend to go for fast food because it’s fast and cheap. Obviously coaches don’t want you eating those types of foods, but when money is tight, you do what you have to do. During holiday breaks, we would get per diem for food and many of us would depend on that to eat. Like I said, we never went hungry by any means, but we did have some struggles.”

The Eastern Echo reached out to Eastern Michigan University Associate Athletic Director of Compliance Chris Hoppe and talked about the impact of the potential rule change.

“We are currently studying the impacts of this rule change, should it ultimately be ratified by the NCAA Board of Directors,” Hoppe said.

It is unknown as of this story as to how much food EMU athletes will receive as the ruling is still pending approval.

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