The NCAA Legislative Council has approved proposals for “student-athlete well-being rules.”
One proposed rule change would provide Division I student-athletes (both scholarship athletes and walk-ons) with unlimited meals and snacks in conjunction with their athletics participation. Under current NCAA rules, schools can provide three meals per day or a stipend for those meals to scholarship athletes. Non-scholarship student-athletes cannot receive the meal allowances. This proposal signals a dramatic shift from the Association’s previous position on meal allowances, which not only limited the number of meals for student-athletics, but also told schools what food and snacks could be provided. For example, an NCAA bylaw allows schools to offer bagels, fruits and nuts to student-athletes at any time. However, according to an NCAA interpretation, spreads or toppings such as cream cheese were prohibited. The NCAA removed that interpretation last year.
This proposed change occurs one week after Shabazz Napier of the University of Connecticut (UConn), and Most Outstanding Player of the 2014 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, told reporters that sometimes he goes to bed “starving” because he cannot afford food. Napier’s comments, which came on the heels of a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Regional Director’s decision that college football players on full scholarship at Northwestern University are university employees, has brought student-athletes’ well-being and the debate over compensating student-athletes back into mainstream conversation. (See Northwestern Scholarship Football Players Found To Be Employees Eligible for Union Representation.)
The NCAA Legislative Council also voted to: (1) require strength and conditioning coaches to be certified by a nationally accredited certification body; (2) require a school staff member certified in CPR, first aid and arterial external defibrillation to be present at all physical, countable athletics activities; (3) reduce the penalty for a first positive test for street drugs during championships; and (4) 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). (See NCAA News Article on New Well-Being Rules.)
The Council’s action is not considered final until the Division I Board of Directors meets on April 24. Once adopted, the changes are effective August 1; however, the strength and conditioning coach certification requirement will go into effect August 1, 2015, to allow coaches time to achieve their certification.