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PastaGate in the past? NCAA takes step to give athletes unlimited food

by Ryan Aber and Jason Kersey Modified: April 15, 2014 at 5:05 pm •  Published: April 15, 2014

The NCAA took a step Tuesday to ensure no more student-athletes go to bed hungry, like UConn basketball star Shabazz Napier recently described.

That no more of Bob Stoops’ players “spend a hungry Sunday without any money.”

And that no more athletic departments feels compelled to self-report serving “pasta in excess.”

The NCAA Legislative Council decided that athletes — scholarship or walk-on — will be allowed unlimited meals and snacks, where before, they were allowed three meals per day or a food stipend.

The rule can be finalized after the Division I Board of Directors meet on April 24.

In mid-February, it was revealed in an Oklahoman report that OU self-reported an NCAA violation after giving three athletes too much pasta at a luncheon honoring graduating athletes.

Sooner offensive linemen Gabe Ikard and Austin Woods — plus another, still unnamed athlete — still had eligibility remaining at the time, and had to pay $3.83 to a charity to become eligible again.

After helping lead UConn to the men’s basketball national title earlier this month, Napier said he had “hungry nights” because he couldn’t afford food.

Stoops made waves last spring when, during an interview with The Sporting News, he was discussing his opposition to paying college athletes.

“I tell my guys all the time,” Stoops told the magazine, “you’re not the first one to spend a hungry Sunday without any money.”

Reacting to the changed rule Tuesday evening, Ikard told The Oklahoman he believes it is a step in the right direction.

“This should reduce stress on student-athletes that come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds,” Ikard said. “I believe the most significant part of the rule involves the supplying of meals to walk-on student-athletes. These young men and women work extremely hard and they are very deserving of this rule change.

“It is encouraging to know that the NCAA is acknowledging the weak points in its structure and making the necessary changes accordingly.”

In addition to the food rule change, the council also voted to:

•Require strength and conditioning coaches to be certified from a nationally accredited certification body

•Require a school staff member certified in CPR, first aid and arterial external defibrillation to be present at all athletic activities

•Reduce the penalty for a first positive test for street drugs, including marijuana, during a championship from a full season to a half season.

•Require football players to rest for at least three hours between practices during the preseason. Film study and meetings are allowed during the rest period.

All changes, with the exception of the strength and conditioning coach certification requirement, will be effective Aug. 1 if they pass. The strength and conditioning coach certification requirement will be effective Aug. 1, 2015.

by Ryan Aber
OU Athletics Reporter
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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