Written By: MEAC Media Relations 

The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) conducted their annual workshop on February 11-13, 2012 at the Sheraton Waterside Hotel in Norfolk, Virginia.

The workshop is designed to bring student-athletes from MEAC member institutions together as one body to enhance leadership skills, participate in team building exercises, discuss NCAA legislation, explore hot topics, and share campus SAAC initiatives.

MEAC SAAC President Paige Webb, a South Carolina State volleyball student-athlete, explained to the group that the goal of the workshop is for the student-athletes to become empowered with knowledge to build better relationships on campus with teammates, the general student body, athletic staff, and faculty.

The group discussed their campus SAAC initiatives that included topics such as Breast Cancer Awareness fundraisers, student-athlete banquets and raffles for tickets to the MEAC Basketball Tournament. 

Jennifer Saxon, Assistant Academic Enhancement/Asst. Internal Operations at South Carolina State led a seminar on how to properly build a resume. While former MEAC SAAC members Joshua Jones and Laura Waters-Brown (Ohio University) provided a presentation on Higher Education that focused on careers in sports.

Leslie Barnes, Director of Student-Athlete Development for Duke University, led a group discussion focused on the DISC Assessment.  DISC is an acronym for: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance. Within her discussion, the student-athletes learned about their personal profiles and how to work with similar and different behavioral personalities.

The workshop resumed on Monday, February 13, with a meeting with MEAC Commissioner Dr. Dennis Thomas.   

The student-athletes spent the last day of the workshop participating in a community service project with Keep Norfolk Beautiful.  Keep Norfolk Beautiful is a program of the Norfolk Environmental Commission (NEC), a non-profit organization and a branch of the City of Norfolk Department of Public Works whose mission is to lead citizens toward environmental stewardship.  During the volunteer experience the MEAC SAAC members picked up trash and litter in a Norfolk, Virginia neighborhood and assisted in the preparation for an upcoming clean up event.

When asked about her experience, Krystina Muhammad, Delaware State University, Senior Track & Field student-athlete stated that "It was better than last year's because of the résumé and higher education workshops. I liked that this year was more educational". 

Erskine Johnson, South Carolina State, Junior football student-athlete, reflected on the workshop and stated that "It was great. I met a lot of new people with different backgrounds and from different sports. I enjoyed the team building and socials the most".

MEAC Student-Athlete Advisory CommitteeThe purpose of the MEAC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (MEAC SAAC) is to foster a unified forum, which provides equal and representative dialog from MEAC student-athletes relating to NCAA and Conference legislation as well as other issues that affect their welfare.  Furthermore, this committee would strive to maintain a positive environment that cultivates a healthy relationship between the athletic administrators and the student-athletes.  The Committee is dedicated to maintaining a positive commitment to support and value diversity and equity among student-athletes. 

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Written By: Roscoe Nance  
Much of what the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) does goes unnoticed. However, it plays a vital role in the success of athletic programs throughout the conference by looking out for the welfare of student-athletes and ensuring that their college experience is a well-rounded one. Not only does the  SAAC provide athletic administrators with insight on the student-athlete experience, but it also offers input on the rules, regulations and polices that affect student-athletes' lives.

"Our purpose is to be the voice of student-athletes," says SAAC representative Nadia Jefferies, a senior softball player at North Carolina Central. "We make sure athletes' thoughts and interests are heard."

The SAAC is organized on campus, conference and division levels. Each MEAC school has two representatives per sport on its campuses that make up the SAAC and one representative per school is also a member of MEAC/SAAC. The MEAC also has one representative to the Division I SAAC, which consists of one representative from each of the 31 Division I conferences.

Campus SAACs meet at least once a month; the MEAC/SAAC meets monthly via conference call to discuss issues and plan initiatives and it holds an annual meeting in Norfolk, Va.

SAAC's role as a watchdog is an important one. If a student-athlete is concerned about being mistreated by a coach, SAAC provides a sounding board; if an athlete believes a scholarship was wrongfully taken away, SAAC is there, and in recent years SAAC has succeeded in having policies that protect its constituents implemented conference-wide.

"We're making a difference,'' says Jefferies.

When some of Hampton's teams had issues concerning facilities maintenance, the SAAC held a Town Hall meeting with SAAC representatives and the athletic administration to resolve them.

"It was very helpful having everybody in one room," says Hampton men's basketball player and SAAC representative Bakari Taylor. "Teams know where they stand and how issues are being resolved rather than just waiting for a response. Concerns are answered in a timely fashion."

The SAAC also plays a vital role in ensuring that student-athletes have a total college experience, that they are involved in campus life the same as non-athletic students.

Last school year, North Carolina Central's SAAC started a student-athlete lock-in. Student-athletes from the school's 14 sports got together for pizza, played games and romped on inflatables. This school year it is sponsoring a Winter Formal for athletes.

For the last three years, the North Carolina A&T SAAC has sponsored the Aggie Athletics Fall Ball, where student-athletes can bring non-athletes as dates. In the past, it was a formal affair, but last fall it organizers added a twist. The theme was the 1980's vs. the 1990's.

 "We want to make sure we're having fun as a community of athletes," Jefferies says, "That it's not just practice, eat, sleep and go home. We're not just watchdogs. We're involved in having a good time together and getting to know each other."

But the SAAC goes beyond fun and games. Community service is also one of its key elements, and each institution's SAAC are involved in a variety of projects.

Hampton's SAAC participates in the "Jump Rope for Heart Campaign each year and helps a local church with its Food Bank.

North Carolina Central is planning an Eagle Walk for Cancer with the inaugural event projected for the 2012-13 school year.

Last fall, North Carolina A&T student-athletes established a Pink Zone for home volleyball matches to promote Breast Cancer Awareness, complete with prize giveaways.

The SAAC also planned a Valentine's program during which it will distribute information about safety on campus. It also held a safety seminar during Homecoming, and it participated in a Drug Awareness Program sponsored by the City of Greensboro, N.C.

 North Carolina A&T senior baseball player and SAAC representative Carvell Copeland, who is also the MEAC's representative to the Division I SAAC, says a side benefit of the SAAC is it allows them to be seen in a different light and enhances their image.

We don't get the dumb jock stereotype,'' he says. "People see us on campus wearing athletic apparel and they recognize us. That's a good portrayal when we have on A&T apparel.''

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