Iowa athletes get more food, officials get fewer headaches

With a new NCAA compliance guideline, providing meals for student-athletes becomes easier.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The choice between a plain bagel and one with cream cheese, so innocuous to millions of Americans every morning, gave athletics compliance officials fits when straddling the line between NCAA compliance and providing for scholarship athletes.

Schools were allowed to supply athletes with one meal per day and unlimited snacks, which carried an ambiguous definition. Bagels were considered snacks but bagels with cream cheese were labeled meals. It confused school officials, created eye-rolling NCAA violations and left athletes wanting more.

That policy since has been streamlined. Last spring, the NCAA approved legislation which allows colleges to provide unlimited food and snacks to athletes in addition to their scholarship meal plan. The rule went into effect Aug. 1, and athletics departments at Iowa and Iowa State — and their high-revenue conferences — already have implemented the changes.

“Now we can make common-sense decisions and make sure our student-athletes are well-fed,” Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta said.

As a first step, Iowa created “refueling stations” in its strength rooms and the Gerdin Learning Center. Food also is delivered to training areas or team facilities. Practice centers at Iowa State, like Heartland Hall for football, also serve as dining areas.

“Before, everybody said it, that we weren’t getting as much food as we wanted,” Iowa wide receiver Tevaun Smith said. “Then to have full-course meals all day is spectacular for us.”

Athletes like Smith engage in a full slate of classes, practice, extra film work and studying. After a long day, they often lack the time or cooking prowess to make nutritional meals. Instead, most would eat fast food.

“Not too many of us know how to make food or want to make food when they come home from practice,” said Smith, who hails from Toronto, Canada.

Before the rule change, non-scholarship athletes were not



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