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.

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