NCAA allows 'unlimited meals' (days after Shabazz Napier claimed hunger)

Eat up, Puddles. - Jonathan Ferrey

New NCAA rule proposals enhance the athlete experience, in part by doing away with silly regulations.

The NCAA is expected to undergo major reforms in the coming months in hopes of staving off lawsuits that threaten to junk the whole system. Today, the NCAA announced smaller reforms that probably should have been enacted 50 years ago, like allowing their athletes to get enough to eat.

Among the reforms:

Athletes can now get unlimited meals from their universities.

As ridiculous as it sounds, athletes were previously limited to three meals a day or a stipend. That rule came under controversy recently after UConn basketball star Shabazz Napier said that he and his teammates sometimes have "hungry nights" because the school is not allowed to give them enough to eat. Current Houston Texans running back Arian Foster has also been critical of the NCAA's food policy, pointing out that Tennessee's coaches were committing a violation by buying Foster and his hungry teammates tacos while he was in college.

Oklahoma recently made a mockery of the rule, reporting that players had committed a violation for taking pasta portions that were $3 too big. After, the NCAA said the controversy was overblown.

The governing body has tried to take steps toward making the food rules more sensible in recent years. For instance: It is no longer against the rules for a coach to buy a recruit cream cheese to go with his or her bagel.

New rules also focus on player safety.

Strength and conditioning coaches are now required to be certified. A staff member certified in CPR, first aid and defibrillation must also now be present at all "physical, countable athletic activities." There must also be a rest period of at least three hours between preseason practices.

The College Athletes Players Association (CAPA), the union hoping to represent Northwestern players, has asked for safety reforms. The changes also come on the heels of the death of Cal football player Ted Agu, who collapsed during an offseason workout.

The organization relaxed its policy on non-performance-enhancing drugs.

The penalty for a positive test will only be half a year instead of a full year in order to help athletes receive proper rehabilitation.

The rules aren't final until the Division I Board of Directors meets on April 24. All but the coach certification would be effective Aug. 1. Mark that date down as a landmark day in the history of collegiate athletics, when the NCAA finally recognizes that athletes having enough to eat is not detrimental to the system's (or the athletes') well-being.

Update: Former 270-pound Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen approves.

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