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Meal plan madness

19 April 2014 By Jonathan Munshaw, Editor-on-Chief No Comments
File photo by Abby Murphy/ The Towerlight

File photo by Abby Murphy/ The Towerlight

When I think back to my freshman year at Towson, when I used to live in Douglass Hall for the Honors College, I think of Outtakes.

At the end of each meal week (Thursday nights) my roommate and I would go to Outtakes and do the math to find out how much we could buy to use up our extra meals. At the time, I had a 14-meal plan, so I usually had one or two extra meals per week.

I’d stock my shopping basket with a bag of barbeque chips, two or three Mountain Dews and maybe a box of bagel bites or something similar to them.

Now, imagine if at the end of the week, if you are an athlete at any Division I school under the new NCAA ruling that gives unlimited meals and snacks to student-athletes. On any night, say Monday, you can now fill your basket with four bags of chips, 12 Mountain Dews, two Gatorades, a protein bar, a bagel, a candy bar and peanuts.

Then, after that, you can go over to the grill in West Village and buy all the chicken tender wraps your heart desires.

Yes, it is as unfair as it sounds. Now, before I get any deeper, I need to qualify one thing: I hate the NCAA. The NCAA is the equivalent of the Decepticons. The Confederacy of Independent Systems. The Legion of Doom.

I think college athletes should be given a stipend, and they should all have the right to unionize.

But this meal plan ruling is ridiculous. During the official announcement on the NCAA’s website, there is no mention of any studies carried out by the NCAA to reach this decision.

Did anyone from the NCAA go around to schools and find out how much student-athletes eat? Did they study how many of these so-called “hungry nights” there are? Did they even try to find out if Shabazz Napier was telling the truth?

(Side note, for those of you who don’t know, Napier, who was part of UConn’s National Championship team, went off on a tangent in a locker room interview about how he goes to bed hungry some nights because he can’t afford food.)

Let’s be real. Napier is probably one of the five most famous students, if not the most, on UConn’s campus. There is no way that someone on or off campus isn’t feeding him in some way, shape or form if he is hungry. No student is going to say, “No, super famous basketball player, I won’t loan you a meal or have you over to my apartment for dinner.”

I really question how many “hungry nights” there really were for Napier. How do you blow through that many meals in one day? Or, if he is receiving a stipend for food, what else is he spending that money on that he can’t even afford a McDouble?

Under the previous NCAA plan, D-I athletes are given three meals per day. How does Napier manage to go through that many meals every day and still be hungry?

This unlimited plan is simply wasteful. How much of those meals do they really need? If you want to bump it up to four meals per day, I could see that. The dining system is different on any campus, but at Towson at least, it is pretty easy to have to use two “meals” on your OneCard for one meal.

Now with unlimited meals, how quickly is this system going to be abused? Who is stopping the athletes from just giving their friends free meals? I just have so many questions and the NCAA, as usual, isn’t providing answers.

Every college student is broke. There’s definitely nights where I wish I had the money to stop at Taco Bell and get two tacos after being in The Towerlight office for 15 hours.

When I lived on campus, there were weeks when I’d have to find someone to donate a guest meal to me at Newell so I could eat dinner Thursday night. It happens, it’s college.

Now that I live off campus, my parents thankfully pay for an over-priced block meal plan.

For students who do live on campus, the most expensive meal plan (19 meals per week) is $2,462. With unlimited meals, the value is obviously significantly higher than that, but let’s just say now that after getting a full ride, these athletes are now getting another $2,500 to eat.

If there was real research going into this that shows that swimmers on D-I campuses aren’t getting enough food to be healthy, then I am all for helping them out.

Athletics bring in so much money for D-I schools that the student-athletes deserve to be rewarded for that, which is why I am all for giving athletes stipends.

But this decision by the NCAA seems like a knee-jerk reaction to Napier’s comments, and a completely unnecessary decision, at that.

It’s one thing to give student-athletes a stipend so they can pay for gas and for the basic needs of every-day life. But don’t over-feed them on a decision that is made to quell the effects of shocking headlines, when there are students who aren’t getting full rides who have the same exact meal plans as the student-athletes currently have.

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