The first of many anticipated changes in the Iowa and Iowa State athletic departments happened Friday.
And endless supply of food.
From walk-ons to fifth-year scholarship seniors, athletes in all sports are now allowed to have unlimited food, thanks to an NCAA rule enacted recently. Previously, athletes received either three meals a day or a food stipend.
The change will cost the state’s two largest schools just short of $1 million annually — $500,000 a year at Iowa, and $400,000 at Iowa State, according to athletic directors at both schools.
At Iowa State, athletes can order off a menu in a cafeteria at the Maple-Willow Larch dormitory. It’s across the street from the Hixon Lied Student Success Center.
At Iowa, the unlimited food for athletes will be available in places such as weight rooms and the Gerdin Learning Center.
Both athletic directors stressed that healthy food offerings will be available.
“The intent of the rule is to supplement nutritional needs,” Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard said.
Connecticut star basketball player Shabazz Napier brought the need for more food to light when talking to reporters during the NCAA Tournament that he helped the Huskies win.
“Sometimes there’s hungry nights where I’m not able to eat, but I’ve still got to play up to my capabilities,” he said.
The NCAA acted swiftly.
“These (re-fueling) stations will have nutritional food and beverage above and beyond their meal plans,” Iowa athletic director Gary Barta said recently. “All these enhancements are being added to full meal plans already offered under the old rules.”