The NCAA Legislative Council approved a rule on Tuesday that would allow student-athletes to receive unlimited meals and snacks. The rule can be finalized next Thursday when the Division I Board of Directors meets.
After Oregon’s spring football practice Wednesday, coaches and players were asked about the new rule, and a common theme emerged.
“That’s one of those things that we’ve kind of been arguing or questioning as long as I’ve been coaching, especially being able to feed walk-ons,” head coach Mark Helfrich told reporters.
Helfrich said it’s painful for him to see “the seas part” out of meetings, where scholarship players feast on large, delicious meals at the Hatfield-Dowlin complex while walk-on players have to fend for themselves. Some of the walk-ons have to work other jobs because they don’t get full-ride scholarships to attend Oregon, so Helfrich and defensive coordinator Don Pellum are happy that at least one more aspect of a walk-on’s life will be similar to scholarship players.
“Those kids are working as hard as everyone else,” Pellum said. “They deserve it (free meals).”
Helfrich and redshirt junior offensive lineman Tyler Johnstone were asked who was more excited about the rule: linemen or walk-ons? Johnstone, while excited about the rule from a personal perspective, unflinchingly said walk-ons. Helfrich’s answer was similar.
“A walk-on lineman,” Helfrich said jokingly.
Helfrich added that a walk-on lineman’s parents were probably just as excited and that the rule was a long time coming. He agreed with Pellum about walk-ons’ work ethic, too, as did Johnstone.
“We’re excited about being able to eat with the entire team finally,” Johnstone said.
Walk-0ns still have to sit tight before joining their teammates in the cafeteria. If the Division I Board passes it on April 24, it won’t become effective until Aug. 1. But the Ducks are confident it will go through, eliminating a much-maligned inequality from college locker rooms.
“Finally a little common sense (will be) at play,” Helfrich said.
- Pellum and Helfrich both discussed defensive lineman Sam Kamp after Wednesday’s practice. Pellum said Kamp has bulked up and is very cerebral. “I think Sam will play some valuable minutes for us,” Pellum said.
Follow Victor Flores on Twitter @vflores415