COMMENTARY | Should NCAA student-athletes get unlimited meals and snacks at Division I schools? The association has made this recommendation in the wake of student-athlete protests that they are overworked and underpaid. Earlier this spring much ado was made about the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Chicago asserting that Northwestern University student-athletes should indeed be considered university employees, making it easier for them to unionize, which comes after much societal debate over whether or not it is fair to deny college sports stars a piece of the lucrative revenue they generated for their schools. More recently, additional controversy has erupted after a college basketball star and NBA prospect said he “goes to bed starving.”
According to CNN, the unlimited meals and snacks proposal must be accepted by the Division I board of directors on April 24.
Personally, I have no problem with ensuring that NCAA student-athletes get as much food as they want. However, after reading many exposes about NCAA student-athletes, ranging from sexual assaults to grade inflation and academic dishonesty scandals to general bad behavior, I do question the wisdom of allowing NCAA athletes to live off-campus. How would unlimited meals and snacks work for NCAA student-athletes who do not live on campus? Does it mean they would receive more money in their stipends?
I do have a problem with NCAA student-athletes getting bigger stipends, allegedly for more food, because I know some of them will not use it for food.
This could be remedied, of course, by requiring these athletes to live on-campus. Come to think of it, requiring NCAA student-athletes to live on-campus might cut down on many of the other scandals plaguing college stars. Off-campus parties and cash stipends instead of dorm rooms and meal plans may be leading many young men (and women) astray.
We should be generous to our nation’s scholar-athletes but hold them accountable for their behavior, both academic and otherwise, which is better achieved when they are in dorms instead of in off-campus apartments. This is a reasonable expectation in exchange for both a high-quality education and a shot at a lucrative professional sporting career. If you want a free college education and a shot at the pros, you should be open to living in the dorms. And you can eat all you want.