It was not too long ago that the NCAA passed rules changes opening up what schools could provide in terms of food for athletes. While the training table was not the only source of nutrition for football players and their peers at their school, it did become much more of a factor — and cost — for schools involved as they went from serving one meal to athletes to multiple.
Now we have some sort of idea how much that all cost and let’s just say it meant more for one SEC program. Forbes obtained records from public schools about “Student-Athlete Meal Expense” from 2016 and 2017 and surprisingly it was Arkansas who spent the most cash on grub over that time period — a total of more than $7 million and some $3.5 million in the most recently reported year alone.
“We spend a lot of money on it,” said the Razorbacks’ Director of Sports Nutrition Karla Horfsal. “We understand how important it is to invest in our student-athletes, and that’s one area where it’s not like we’re making money back by feeding our athletes. I know for me personally, that’s something to be proud of, and I know that that’s something that our entire department really supports. They really appreciate the role of nutrition, and I’d like to think that that’s the growing trend across the country as far as college athletics.”
Of course, all that good eating (which is for all sports on campus) didn’t exactly translate onto the football field at Arkansas with the team winning just four SEC games the past three seasons.
Other big spenders on meals include the usual suspects of Ohio State, Michigan, Iowa, Texas A&M and Texas. Some eight programs spent at least $2 million in 2017 on meals according to the figures obtained, which don’t include private schools like USC and Notre Dame.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was not seeing either Alabama or Clemson, the two most recent national champions in football, make the top 20. As we’ve seen though, the proper amount of food doesn’t always result in wins across the board.