Missouri responds to NCAA Division I proposal for unlimited food for athletes

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 | 9:13 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA – Missouri football players aren't shy about expressing their desire for more financial help. Sophomore safety Brock Bondurant hears his teammates discuss it frequently.

"They've just been talking about finally having a little bit of help financially," Bondurant says. "Being able to not have to spend the only extra money you have on food would be a nice break for athletes."

On April 15 the NCAA Legislative Council proposed that NCAA Division I athletes, scholarship athletes and walk-ons alike, be provided unlimited food and snacks by their universities. The proposal will be discussed again at a meeting on Thursday.

Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier, amid his team's NCAA championship run, conducted a March 27 interview with Fox Sports in which he said, "there are hungry nights that I go to bed and I’m starving."

Eight days after the Huskies won the national championship, the NCAA Legislative Council moved its proposal along.

Scholarship athletes at Missouri receive stipends around $970 per month. As it is now, student-athletes are provided three meals per day or a stipend.

As a walk-on, Bondurant doesn't receive any money from Missouri to play football. He estimates that he spends $300 a month on food between groceries and eating out.

While this has been a hot topic among the football players at Missouri, wrestlers haven't discussed it at all. Freshman J'den Cox tries to save his money each month to put toward gas.

Cox said that his money hardly ever goes toward food because he uses the resources at the Mizzou Athletic Training Complex or dining halls on campus.

"Honestly, the team hasn't talked about this at all with each other," Cox said. "We have things that need to get done. The school will take care of itself, but we have to do us and wrestle for now."

Chad Moller, Missouri's associate athletics director and the football department's spokesman, has no doubts the school will use this opportunity to take care of its student-athletes, even though he is unsure of the exact financial commitment at this time.

"This is just one step in an effort to provide broader support for student-athletes," Moller said in a statement to the Missourian. "While there will be a financial commitment necessary, we have not calculated those costs as of yet. But we are confident we have and will define the appropriate resources. We are fully supportive of enhancing the support for the well-being of student athletes, and so we are supportive of this new opportunity.

"We haven't seen an indication that student-athletes were not getting enough food and feel we do a great job in providing not only the current meals but also educating our students on making wise nutritional choices. We do, however, believe that this is a great chance for us to enhance providing sound nutritional products for each meal year round."

Division I university Southern Illinois pays its student-athletes $950 a month. Azia Washington, sophomore forward for the Salukis women's basketball team, doesn't know how she would pay for food and gas if she didn't drive "a little bitty Honda."

Washington spends $500 of her stipend on rent.

"It helps because food is no longer something that takes from our check," Washington said. "We'll be able to spend it on other things like household items or toiletries.

"I can say (I've gotten) kinda hungry. There will always be Ramen noodles. I'm not starving but definitely didn't have a great meal."

If the NCAA Division I board of directors approve the proposal on Thursday, the rule will take effect on August 1.

"Everyone believes they could use a little extra money, especially student-athletes," Bondurant said. "All the stress and strain of devoting nearly every hour of your life to your sport and academics is tough with no ability to work a job and make money to pay for school, rent, or food."

Supervising editor is Sean Morrison.

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