Is the NCAA 'Bagel Rule' going to be rolled away?

TO THE BARRICADES! Red, the schmear of angry men/Black, the poppy seeds on top! RT @nuhighlights: LET OUR STUDENT ATHLETES HAVE CREAM CHEESE

— Tom McGrath (@TCMcG) January 18, 2013

Everybody’s favorite bit of NCAA micromanagement, The Bagel Rule, appears to be crumbling into, um, crumbs, in the wake of some very serious discussion at the annual NCAA convention. If you’re unfamiliar with this rulebook gem, the Bylaw Blog did a great writeup of what the actual rule is and how it came to be back in October. It’s actually got a pretty complicated backstory, beginning with a shift on college campuses away from dining hall meal plans and toward food courts, and ends with the specter of secret peanut butter machines. We highly recommend you read the whole thing, but here are some pertinent highlights:

[In] 2000 the NCAA members voted to allow schools to provide unlimited amounts of “nutritional supplements” to student-athletes. [...] In 2008, to add some real food into the equation, the Atlantic Coast Conference put forward Proposal 2008–43, which sought to allow schools to provide “fruits, nuts and bagels to student-athletes at any time.” [...] [Spreads] and toppings on bagels were prohibited. The reasoning was to prevent something intended as a snack or supplement from becoming a meal (because then you could eat pizza anytime, right?). Second, only “whole foods” were permitted. You could not get around the prohibition on bagel spreads by providing jelly (technically a fruit product) or peanut butter (technically a nut or legume product). [...] So the real story is that the NCAA did not set out to make sure bagels went unschmeared. [...] The result though is that a proposal in the spirit of deregulation makes the rule book larger and more complicated.

And then, Friday morning, word began trickling out from the Gaylord Texan via social media channels …

I’m confused. Apparently the prohibition against cream cheese on bagels will go away, because the interp prohibiting it will be deleted… — Karen Peters (@kpetersnm) January 18, 2013

… but the rule itself won’t change, so how do you KNOW that cream cheese is allowed? Hmmm. — Karen Peters (@kpetersnm) January 18, 2013

And just like that, NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs Kevin Lennon dropped a bagel bombshell:

@john_infante NCAA says we don’t care what you put on bagels. And by the way, membership, not staff, introduced spread restriction!

— Kevin Lennon (@KevinLennon2) January 18, 2013

On that sunny, salty note, we’re taking off for the weekend, but we’ll have more on this vital issue as soon as we return.

Programming note: Regular posting on Campus Union will resume Tuesday, January 22. Thanks for reading. 

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