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Proposal would allow more food

INDIANAPOLIS – The NCAA’s Legislative Council approved a proposal Tuesday to expand the meal allowance for all athletes.

The move occurred eight days after Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier complained during the Final Four that he sometimes went to bed “starving” because he couldn’t afford food.

The proposal would allow Division I schools to provide unlimited meals and snacks to all athletes, including walk-ons. The measure still must be approved by the board of directors, which meets April 24.

“I think the end result is right where it needs to be,” committee chairwoman and America East assistant commissioner Mary Mulvenna said in a statement released by the governing body.

The proposal has been in the works for months, and University of New Mexico athletic director Paul Krebs noted that in general, the idea of more relaxed rules for athletes have been in the works for even longer.

“Food and nutrition for our student athletes is something we talk about constantly,” Krebs said Wednesday. “I am not sure exactly how it will impact us or how we will adapt to these changes, but we are committed to doing all we can for (their) well-being.”

Napier’s comments following last week’s national championship game brought attention to the topic. He was named the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament, leading Connecticut to its fourth men’s title.

Schools have been allowed to provide three meals per day or a stipend for those meals to scholarship athletes. The new rule would allow walk-ons to receive the same allowances and would allow schools to provide more meals and snacks, too.

The committee also approved a measure that would reduce the penalty for a first positive drug test – if the banned substance is determined to be something other than a performance-enhancing drug. Currently, players who fail the test during NCAA tournaments must sit out one full season. The proposal would cut the penalty to half a season.

Committee members said they hope the change will encourage schools to provide more rehab services.

The NCAA only tests during its championship events, though schools can implement its own drug tests throughout the school year.

In other moves, the committee approved:

• A measure requiring football players to get a three-hour break between preseason practices. Film sessions and team meetings still could be held during the break;

• require a school staff member who is certified in CPR, first aid and arterial external defibrillation to be present at all physical, countable athletic activities;

• and require strength and conditioning coaches to be certified by a nationally accredited certification organization.

If approved, the proposals, except the one regarding strength and conditioning coaches, would take effect Aug. 1. The committee has recommended giving strength and conditioning coaches until Aug. 1, 2015, to complete their certification.

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