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Division II Presidents Council supports unlimited meals and snacks

The proposal mirrors legislation passed in Division I last spring

Division II members may soon have more flexibility to support their student-athletes’ nutritional needs.

The Division II Presidents Council at its meeting in Indianapolis Thursday unanimously supported a proposal that would allow schools to provide unlimited meals and snacks for all student-athletes in conjunction with their athletics participation. Similar legislation was passed by Division I in April.

The legislative proposal continues the division’s efforts to deregulate its manual and ensure appropriate benefits for its student-athletes. If passed at the 2015 NCAA Convention in January, the legislation would apply to scholarship and non-scholarship athletes and take effect Aug. 1, 2015.

The change is intended to provide more flexibility to student-athletes in training, who may not have time to grab food at a dining facility in between practice and class, for example. The proposed legislation is not designed to replace meals that are already provided through a dining plan or off-campus food stipend. It also would not negate the existing “occasional meals” legislation permitting schools to provide a team meal sporadically without tying it to practice or a game.

Council members called the move a “no-brainer.”

“Student-athletes, especially when they’re in training, are burning a lot of calories, and just eating from their meal plan may not be enough to cover their nutritional needs,” said California Baptist University President Ronald Ellis. “Student-athlete health is paramount, and the deregulation will reflect more common sense.”

Each individual school would need to determine how, or if, they would utilize the new allowances. The Division II Legislation Committee, which recommended the Council sponsor the meals and snacks proposal, predicted athletics department budgets would prevent schools from providing exorbitant amounts or types of food. 

In addition to benefiting student-athletes, the proposed legislation would reduce the monitoring burden on athletics staff, which has been a goal for the division over the last several years.

“We’re allowing universities and their staffs to use their better judgment in ensuring the safety and health of their students,” said Grand Valley State University President Tom Haas, who serves as chair of the Presidents Council. “Good judgment will reign.”

Also at the meeting:

  • The Council approved in legislative form proposals that would require schools to employ a full-time compliance officer with no coaching duties, effective Aug. 1, 2018, and employ a full-time athletics director with no coaching duties, effective Aug. 1, 2015. For the latter proposal, a grandfathering clause would enable current athletics directors with coaching responsibilities to continue in both roles at their school until they cease to hold one or either of the roles. Read more about the personnel proposal here.
  • The Council voted not to eliminate a provision in the Division II Constitution permitting football-specific voting. The Management Council recommended the Presidents Council not sponsor a proposal to terminate the provision, which prevents schools and conferences that do not sponsor football from voting on issues that apply only to that sport. Read more here.
  • The Council supported a proposal that would deregulate the way schools can publicize signings of prospective student-athletes. Currently, schools are not permitted to host a press conference, reception, dinner or other similar event to celebrate or announce individuals who have signed a written commitment. The proposed legislation would allow such celebrations.