Athletes, schools adjust to new NCAA food rules

As football season starts, Big Ten colleges discuss ways to meet new guidelines for student athletes and free food.

CHICAGO—Although the NCAA buffet opens today, all-you-can-eat chicken wings, nacho bars and pizza buffets are not on the menu.

But Big Ten football players are anxious to sample the fare they will receive as administrators try to figure out how to pay for the tab created by an NCAA rule change taking effect today which provides student-athletes with unlimited meals and snacks.

“Sounds good, at least that is what I’m telling people,’’ Iowa defensive tackle Carl Davis said. “I think it’s a needed change, something that will help us find food at the times when we need it.’’

The 6-foot-6, 315-pound senior said he has left an early morning workout and headed to class without grabbing breakfast more than once during his time on campus.

“I think that’s more of what this is about than anything, making healthy food available to us during times that might not be normal meal times,’’ Davis said.

That doesn’t stop the questions players are receiving from family and friends.

“People joke all the time about us getting steak and shrimp every night, but it doesn’t work that way and it won’t,’’ Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner said. “It’s about providing us food we need in order to be able to perform and train at a high level and making it available at times when we need it.’’

At Iowa, student-athletes on scholarship who live in dormitories receive the top-level food plan offered to residents of student housing. Those who live off campus receive the financial equivalent of that food plan if they opt not to participate in the dormitory food program.

Student-athletes receive a stipend to cover the cost of a meal at times when the dormitory cafeterias are closed.

Training tables are also offered in each sport five times per week to help ensure that nutritional needs are being met.

For football players at Iowa, in-season training table meals are scheduled on Monday and Friday mornings and after practice on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The school pays for all meals when the team is traveling.

The rule change also now allows walk-ons to participate in the full food and snack program, something that was not the case in the past.

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