McCollough: NCAA deserves pat on the back for finally doing something right

Published 10:25 pm Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Shabazz Napier griped. The world listened.

Just days after leading the Connecticut Huskies to the national championship, Napier, a senior point guard for the Huskies, opened his mouth and voiced his opinion about the ongoing struggle between the NCAA and the student-athlete.

Napier said that some nights he goes to bed hungry because he doesn’t have any food or money to buy any.

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On Tuesday, the NCAA approved a proposal to expand the meal allowances for all athletes.

The proposal would allow Division I schools to provide unlimited meals and snacks to all athletes, including walk-ons. The measure still must be approved by the board of directors, which meets April 24.

This isn’t about paying college players; I will get to that in just a moment.

The average food intake for a “normal” person should be between 1,500-2,500 calories a day. College athletes need much more to do the amazing things they do. I fully understand this, which is why I applaud the NCAA for making sure all of its student-athletes are properly fed and taken care of.

I also applaud the NCAA for finding a way around providing cash or extra benefits.

I went to college right here at good ole’ Troy University. As a faithful Trojan, I of course made my way to some of the local watering holes to celebrate big wins on the football field, basketball hardwood or baseball diamond. More often than not, I recognized athletes in the establishment as well.

It is certainly within their right to go out and celebrate a win; I just don’t want them doing it on the school’s or NCAA’s dime. The athletes are already receiving a free education, while many of their fellow students will be saddled with debt for year’s to come. Which brings me back to Shabazz.

Napier complained about not having money for food, but yet his arms are covered with tattoos. I’m sure the amount of money he spent on the arm ink could have kept his belly full for months.

By providing the athletes with more meals, that are closely monitored by the school, the NCAA kills two birds with one stone: they will take care of their student athletes and not open Pandora’s box by having 18-22 year-old-kids running around with pockets full of cash.

This is rare, and my never happen again…but I stand up and give you a standing ovation NCAA. For once, you got it right.

Ryan McCollough is a sports writer for The Messenger. He covers high school, recreation and Troy University athletics and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America. You may contact him at