Division I student-athletes can receive unlimited meals and snacks in conjunction with their athletics participation, the Legislative Council decided Tuesday. The rule, which applies to walk-ons as well as scholarship student-athletes, is an effort to meet the nutritional needs of all student-athletes.

The provision of meals approved Tuesday is in addition to the meal plan provided as part of a full scholarship. Prior to this change, scholarship student-athletes received three meals a day or a food stipend.

Council chair Mary Mulvenna, associate commissioner of the America East Conference, said Tuesday’s decisions underscored the commitment to student-athletes.

“[Tuesday] we took action to provide meals to student-athletes incidental to participation,” Mulvenna said. “I think the end result is right where it needs to be.”

No action is considered final until the Division I Board of Directors meets April 24.

The adoption of the meals legislation finished a conversation that began in the Awards, Benefits, Expenses and Financial Aid Cabinet. Members have worked to find appropriate ways to ensure student-athletes get the nutrition they need without jeopardizing Pell Grants or other federal aid received by the neediest student-athletes. With their vote, members of the council said they believe that loosening NCAA rules on what and when food can be provided from athletics departments is the best way to address the issue.

Members also voted to:

• Require strength and conditioning coaches to be certified from a nationally accredited certification body.
• Require a school staff member certified in CPR,  first aid and arterial external defibrillation to be present at all physical, countable athletic activities.
• Reduce the penalty for a first positive test for street drugs during championships.
• Require football players to rest for at least three hours between practices during the preseason. Film review and team meetings will be allowed during this period.
• The penalty for testing positive for street drugs, including marijuana, will be reduced to half a season from a full season. Street drugs are not performance-enhancing in nature, and this change will encourage schools to provide student-athletes the necessary rehabilitation.

All of the adopted proposals are effective Aug. 1, with the exception of the strength and conditioning coach certification requirement. The council members voted to delay until Aug. 1, 2015, to allow coaches time to achieve their certification without their jeopardizing their employment.

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