Nice Dining Or Fast Food? Eating’s Better In Power Five

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — At Nebraska, athletes dine on specially made entrees like mahi mahi steaks, bison meatloaf or chicken marsala in the Lewis Training Table.

At Akron, athletic director Larry Williams can just hope the stuff skips and any runs to fast-food restaurants.

The hundreds of millions of dollars that have poured into the Power Five conferences, much of it from television rights fees, have improved dozens of colleges and allowed them to give their athletes the very best of everything, right down to what they consume. Earnings is drawn by Schools outside the Ability Five and several provide the dining possibilities available to non-athletes on campus.

Nebraska, as an instance, will invest $3.3 million annually on athlete nutrition. Along with this high quality food in the training table and healthy snacks at fueling stations, the funding covers a manager of food assistance, executive chef, registered sports dietitian and three assistants, and more than a dozen additional staffers.

Akron will invest less than $100,000 on athlete nutrition, most of the athletes when campus dining services have been closed. Nobody is there to track their food options, although men’s basketball players occasionally check and volunteers her time.

“It’s sort of this untold story that’s really affecting college athletics and is symbolic of that disparity that is continuing to rise,” Williams stated.

Athletes at Division I schools, whether on scholarship or not, have been eligible to receive unlimited meals and snacks since 2014 as part of NCAA deregulation. Before that, scholarship athletes received even a food or three meals every day.

The loosened rules prompted an immediate and substantial increase in nutrition spending many schools in the Power Five conferences (Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern) and a handful of other Football Bowl Subdivision colleges, according to athletic spending records provided to The Associated Press.

“We know from anecdotal evidence that what you eat can elevate you or hold you back,” said Lindsey Remmers, Nebraska’s manager of performance nutrition. “So you have got to extend the food since we understand they do not head out and go grocery shopping on their own. They won’t eat (right) unless it’s here.”

Clemson this season opened a $55 million football-only construction featuring a dining hall at which, once everything is up and functioning for the defending champions, a player’s biometric readings can help determine his recommended diet for the day. The player will place his thumb on measure and a scanner on a scale, and his personal menu will be produced based on the data.

Paul Harrington, Clemson’s director of football nutrition, stated he and his staff meet with each player. Participants are monitored and weighed before and after exercise. Chef Donna McCain will fix a participant dishes if it will help him stay on track.

“It is meeting them at the middle somewhere,” Harrington said. “They want the fried chicken, mac-n-cheese; we want the grilled chicken, salad or something. What’s the version we can do in the middle?”

Sophomore defensive end Clelin Ferrell said he planned to eat of his meals in the facility.

“They switched the meals all of the time so the varieties are crazy. I’m enjoying it,” Ferrell said. “They cut back on the fried food. I love fried food. I am definitely starting to see the results, hopefully, it translates over into the area.”

In Alabama, nourishment spending climbed $1 million the first year of their new food rules and is up to a national-high $3.6 million this year.

The Crimson Tide broke ground this summer on a 15 million-plus dining hall that will seat 817 athletes. The building will house the nourishment staff’s offices and also a “demo” kitchen in which athletes will be taught how to cook their own foods.

Accounting approaches vary, however, the frequent range for nutrition prices at Power Five schools is $1.5 million to $2.5 million.

“Surely the Power Five seminar schools which have a winning convention have an operational budget to go for it,” said Dave Ellis, a sports nutrition consultant and former president of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Association. “It is not only Top 25 teams that value fueling. Guy enjoy (Wyoming coach) Craig Bohl has his administration building a new soccer complex with a training table which will feed all Wyoming sports. The first thing Craig had me do when he arrived at Wyoming was placed in a fueling station in the weight room.”

Wyoming led the Mountain West Conference in nourishment spending in 2014-15 last year than at $ 900,000, also has hired two nutritionists.

Houston, of this American Athletic Conference, is spending over $1 million, that ranks at the peak of the Circle. On the other hand, East Carolina, which plays at the exact same seminar as Houston, spent $118,000 to provide four extra meals every week however had no nourishment team, no fueling stations and no training table.

Of none had a athlete table and you had a nutritionist. Ohio provided a snack station for the first time this past year, allocating $35,000 for what it described as “dry food items and fruit”

In the Sun Belt Conference, Texas State is spending $380,000 for a coaching table, $50,000 for a snack station and $12,500 for a campus professor to advise athletes on nourishment.

Nebraska’s athlete nutrition program dates to 1938, when the older Big Six Conference approved training tables for soccer players only. The Lewis Training Table started in its current location in 1985, built with profits from the Cornhuskers’ look from the 1983 Kickoff Classic, also was remodeled for $3.25 million in 2010. Nutrition staff and comforts have been added over the years. Since deregulation in 2014, a nutrition station known as “The Landing” was remodeled and 18 student interns take turns staffing it Monday through Friday. The menu includes, among other things, energy shakes and smoothies, yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts and fruits.

The Akron athletic director, Williams, said he is convinced nutrition led to the Zips’ basketball team struggling at the conclusion of the year in 2016-17. The Zips went 5-5 following a 22-4 start.

“We moved into a tailspin where we could not muster a complete game’s worth of energy,” Williams explained. “It was obvious we were not well-nutritioned. You will find a whole lot. Certainly, one of these is that we weren’t lean.”

Together with Akron’s total budget of $34 million — roughly one-third of the funding at large Power Five schools — Williams has been left to imagine what carefully planned training table spreads and nutritionists could perform. Some money to provide meals for football players over the summer was cobbled together by the school, along with an outdoor bride was bringing in breakfasts for the soccer team.

“So at least for one meal that they weren’t eating out of pocket at Taco Bell,” Williams stated.


AP Sports Writer Pete Iacobelli contributed to this report.


For more AP school football coverage: and


This version corrects Dave Ellis’ Name to president of Professional Sports Dietitians Association and the Collegiate.

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