Friday, April 18, 2014

Mark Emmert: Shabazz Napier's 'starving' comment did not influence NCAA's new food policy

Despite evidence to the contrary, NCAA president Mark Emmert went on the record Friday morning to say that recent comments made by Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier did not influence the NCAA's new ruling to now allow unlimited food and snacks to student athletes.

Napier made headlines in the days leading up to the men's national title game when he told reporters he often goes to bed "starving" because he cannot afford additional food. Coincidentally, the NCAA announced earlier this week that it was deregulating its strict food policy.

"The biggest problem was, the NCAA has historically had all kinds of, I don't know how to describe it [except to say] dumb rules about food," Emmert said on ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike" show. "The infamous one is you can provide between meals a snack but you can't provide a meal. Well, then you got to define what's the difference between a snack and a meal? So it was literally the case that a bagel was defined as a snack -- unless you put cream cheese on it. Now it becomes a meal. That's absurd."

Emmert then went on to say the new rules weren't brought about because of Napier and even joked that UConn can feed Napier "breakfast in bed every day" if they want.

Emmert also noted that the relaxed food policy could give some schools an advantage over others in terms of perceived quality. He says he's okay with that.

"The notion that schools might compete by offering better quality food, that's not inherently a bad thing," Emmert said. "So let's compete over who can provide the best nutrition for a student-athlete. We compete over who can give them the best locker room. I'd rather they compete over who can give them the best nutrition. So will there be competition around that, I'm sure there will be, but I don't think that's a bad thing."

Let the marketing for "we have the best food of any college in America" begin.