The Northeast Conference is one of the smallest NCAA Division I conferences, mainly composed of schools in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, and Rhode Island. During the weekend of February 27 and 28, our conference got together for our first in-person meeting of the year in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Surprisingly, there is more than just chocolate in this town. The area is home to the Cancer Recovery Foundation which has a “Bear-able Bag” program that our conference worked with personally. The program is the largest distributor of gifts to kids with cancer in the world. Huge companies such as Crayola and Mattel donate to the foundation and it was our jobs to put the boxes together that get sent to hospitals all over the country.
Mattel donated around 6,000 Barbie’s to the foundation and it was part of our job to unload them out of the boxes. We spent a whole afternoon there and we all felt very accomplished afterwards. Prior to our meeting we had a conference wide penny wars where $2,803.91 was raised for the Cancer Recovery Foundation as well. It was a great experience and we are looking forward to doing it again next year.
For the first time this year we decided to elect a chair and two vice chairs to run the conference SAAC. This will change the formats for future meetings and it will hopefully be run by only the chair instead of our head liaison.
Along with this change, we decided to add the Northeast Conference Award for Excellence in Community Service which would recognize one institution in the conference annually for their community service efforts. The winner will be decided at our February in-person meeting next year. This is a great opportunity for institutions to be recognized for all their hard work within their communities.
The meeting to start off the year was a great success and we were happy to see some major changes within the conference. Our next in-person meeting will be in November where more conference issues will be discussed and hopefully pushed in the right direction.
Aminah Charles is the representative from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). A Volleyball Student-Athlete at Hampton University, she graduated with a degree in Sports Management.
How long have you been on National SAAC?
How did you become involved with SAAC?
I became involved during my sophomore year after learning about SAAC as a freshman from senior leaders on the team. They gave such positive feedback about the group of student-athletes on the committee and I really just wanted to be a part of this great group of people who worked hard to make the student athlete experience amazing.
What's one cool thing your campus SAAC does that makes you unique?
Every year we do a Penny Drive and raise money for a different charity. We also pay a visit and do community service at a charity or organization we select.
What is your favorite memory from National SAAC?
It would have to be my first meeting in Indianapolis. Everyone said I would grow close to the members in a week’s time than I had to anyone before, and it was so true!
What is the best thing about being a D1 Athlete?
We are D1, so we set the bar!
Favorite TV show?
Favorite Musical Artist?
Favorite Pro Sports Team?
If you could meet one person in the world, who would it be?
Place you’ve never been that you’d love to visit?
The actor who plays you in the movie version of your life?
One interesting fact about yourself?
I love to sing and dance...and I'm not good at either!
What are some of your career goals?
Work for one of the world’s biggest sports brands in sport marketing or brand marketing.
Thanks for reading and come back next week to read about Anne Morrison, a women’s rower from Cal State, Sacramento who enjoys Glee and throwing pottery. Posted b
As a member of the NCAA Student Athlete Advisory Committee, I feel it is extremely important to be a leader in all aspects of your life. For me, that meant getting involved in my campus’ student government. Not only did I want to be a leader in the athletic realm of my college experience, but I wanted to be a leader to the entire student body.
During my first three years of college, I had very little knowledge of what student government did. As I started to learn more about their cause, I came to the realization that the student-athlete voice was not present in any shape or form in the student government structure at American University. Therefore, I made it one of my main priorities to have student-athlete representation in my school’s student government.
After unsuccessfully running for student government president - I lost by less than 100 votes - the incoming president created a position that oversaw all student/athletic areas, from varsity athletics to intramural sports. This opportunity has opened new avenues for me in terms of pushing the cause of student-athletes and students in general.
My experience in the student government in the past six months has allowed me to intertwine my responsibilities as president of our school's SAAC, to my role as Director of Athletics and Recreation for student government. Two experiences that I have had the pleasure to carry out in my position with the student government were to sit on the athletics committee for the Board of Trustees and to serve on the Campus Life, Athletics and Recreation Committee.
My insight as a student-athlete has helped both committees on numerous issues, including coming up with creative ways to raise school spirit and insight on what the American University should do to upgrade facilities to better the student and student-athlete experience at American University. If I were not involved with the student government, these opportunities probably would not have been available to me.
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As a new member of the Division I National Student Athlete Advisory Committee, I was extremely nervous about my first meeting. The fact that the meeting was in conjunction with the NCAA Convention didn’t help calm any of those butterflies either. First arriving in Atlanta from Colorado, I expected some nice southern weather, but apparently that doesn’t exist. There wasn’t much of a change from the frigid Colorado air to the frigid Georgia air. My flight got in really early that day, so all I could do was sit around and wait for people to show up. At first, I was exhausted and seriously lacking enthusiasm, however, as student-athletes from across the country began to gather, my energy grew. I knew I was going to have an amazing experience.
One would think that 14 hours of daily meetings would put a damper on a convention, but in my opinion that was the best part. I learned more in our daily meetings than I have learned in a long time and that is all due to the amazing members of SAAC. Each and every member of SAAC brings something different to the committee and everything they bring is valuable. I could write an entire blog entry on the members of SAAC alone, as well as the liaisons. A couple of things that I want to cover are the Division I Business Session as well as the Honors Celebration/Dinner.
Now for those of you who have never been to a NCAA Convention, believe me when I say it is a tad intimidating. When you walk in there are chairs for all of the delegates as well as microphones throughout for people to give speeches if they so choose. Being in the same room with university presidents, NCAA staff members and athletic administration from all over the country is a humbling and, quite frankly, a nerve-wrecking experience. But the fact is that every single one of them is there for the same purpose, to enhance the experiences of student-athletes, creates an electrifying atmosphere.
With two high profile and semi-controversial pieces of legislation up for override during the convention, my first business session and the preparation for it was interesting to say the least. Proposal 2008-46, in the simplest of terms, added another week to the baseball season, going from 13 weeks to 14 weeks. As student-athletes we felt that it was important that the season did extend, allowing for more rest for the baseball student-athletes, as well as, more scheduling flexibility to ensure less missed class time. Because this was so important to us, our chair, Matt Baysinger, gave an amazing speech to the entire business session. Proposal 2008-59 was the more controversial of the two; the override would take sand volleyball off of the Division I Emerging Sports List. When there was a motion to discuss this proposal, I could feel the tension in the room rising. Delegate after delegate walked up to a microphone to explain why people should support or oppose the override and our very own Danielle Neault gave a rousing speech about why people should oppose the override and allow sand volleyball to stay on the ESL. It was amazing to see the passion and viewpoints that all of the delegates brought to their speeches. It reminded me of how lucky I am to be a DI student-athlete because there are so many people working hard to make sure that I succeed in all ways possible.
On the final night of the convention there was the Honors Celebration and that was a real treat. The Honors Celebration is always on the last night of the convention and honors amazing people that have truly amazing stories. The Top VIII is a group of student athletes who showed an interest in not only being the best at their sport but also to academics and community service. Some of the Top VIII included Tim Tebow of the University of Florida, Courtney Kupets of the University of Georgia and Jeff Lerg of Michigan State.
The Silver Honorees were all former student-athletes on their 25th Anniversary of graduation. Doug Flutie, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Maureen O-Toole Purcell were just a few of the Silver Honorees. All of them had done great things throughout their lives, but I think the most important thing was that they all stood for what being a student-athlete can do for you in the long run. The NCAA also awarded the two awards of Valor; one to Richard Phillips and the other to Roxana Saberi. Phillips was the captain of the merchant ship that got attacked by Somalian pirates last year. But the most amazing part of this story was that he allowed himself to be kidnapped in order to protect the lives of the men and women on his ship. Saberi, a journalist, was arrested and had an unannounced trial where she was sentenced to eight years in an Iranian jail. She was not allowed visitors for some time and was put through all types of mental torture while in captivity. Exactly 100 days after her arrest, Saberi was released and has since been seen as a hero all over the country. There were two Inspiration awards given out: one to the Bluffton baseball team and the other to Lieutenant Colonel Gregory Gadson. The Bluffton baseball team lost five members in 2007 in a bus crash on the way to their season opener in Florida. A month after the accident, the remaining team members and the coaches decided that it was important to continue playing for the players that couldn’t be there. Gadson, a former football student-athlete from West Point, lost both of his legs to an improvised explosive device in Iraq. Gadson didn’t allow this incident to end his life and is a testament to us all that obstacles only stay in our way if we allow them to.
Something that was true about all of the honorees was that even though they had all done amazing things and had amazing stories; they were some of the most humble people I have ever met.
I have been lucky in my life to meet many different people but the people that I meet during the week of January 11-16 were and will remain unforgettable and I can’t wait until the next meeting.
Colorado State University
Mountain West Conference
Division I National SAAC Member
The 104th NCAA Convention in Atlanta, Georgia was a great one for the DI National Student Athlete Advisory Committee.It served as a powerful reminder as to how much work we have put in during this past year and also how much more work lies ahead of us.
Convention offers opportunities for us to interact with many different administrators from campuses and conferences around the country, and to have the student-athlete voice be heard by the schools in attendance.At convention, SAAC is given the opportunity to meet with three of the most influential groups within the entire NCAA: the leadership council, the legislative council and the board of directors.
The leadership council is comprised of mainly higher administrators and experienced faculty members.They discuss broad topics facing the NCAA in the coming years and propose with strategies to tackle them.
The legislative council is the group that deals exclusively with voting on each year’s proposals each year which include everything from length of seasons to the role of text messaging in the recruiting process.Each conference has one representative on the Legislative Council.
Finally, the board of directors is a group of university presidents who are charged with leading the NCAA.
As you can see, these three groups are incredibly important when it comes to the rules and regulations of the NCAA – and SAAC has a chance to meet with each of these groups during our time at convention.
A big takeaway from our meeting this year was just how important the student-athlete voice is going to be over this coming year. It looks like there could be changes to NCAA regulations on recruiting, non-athletic financial aid, amateurism, men’s basketball and men’s football.Needless to say, SAAC has its plate full for this upcoming year.
As these changes are proposed, it is incredibly important that we hear views from all types of student-athletes.Each of the 31 members of National SAAC will be in touch with their conferences to collect important feedback that could shape what the NCAA looks like in the future.It is comforting to know that student-athletes have a voice on a national level. After all, the NCAA exists for the student-athletes.
The NCAA Division I National SAAC is proud to announct the two winners of the Fall 2009 National SAAC Award of Excellence. University of Houston Cougars
In years past, The University of Houston’ Student-Athlete Council might have been considered "a sleeping giant" – a group with enormous potential but not much activity. But thanks to new leadership, student-athletes have been moving forward full throttle in the 2009-2010 school year. Only six weeks into the fall 2009 term, the UH Student-athlete council has already met four times – every other week. In this short time, the SAAC has created and implemented a SAAC webpage and committed to 5 community service events for fall: the American Diabetes "Step Up" Walk in November, the Houston Marathon Kids Kick-Off on October 10th, the Harvard Elementary School Literacy Night on October 20th, the Star of Hope Holiday Party on the first Monday in December, and a Cookies and Milk Event with Star of Hope Homeless Shelter residents in November (which will be come a monthly event).
Through the newly founded "Coog for a Coog" program, a SAAC led initiative, the group ask those who are not practicing or competing to attend their fellow student-athletes competitions. Turn out by student-athletes has increased dramatically at Womens' Soccer and Volleyball games, and student-athletes were all seated together to provide additional support to our football team at a Sept. 26th, nationally televised game.
The SAAC has also increased its leadership goals by inviting a Head Coach and an Athletic Administrator to each meeting to share their insights from a leadership perspective and to increase communication between the athletic department and its student-athletes. One of the SAAC representatives is also a member of the Student Government Association and our SAAC is in discussion with the SGA President to determine whether Athletics can have its own seat in UH Student Government.
Further, the SAAC has composed a list of short-term and long-term goals that are aimed at improving the UH community and student-athlete welfare. Two of those goals are the installation of an indoor bike rack to reduce theft of student-athlete bikes and encourage a ‘greener; way of living, as well as a "healthy options" food/sandwich cart that would improve lunch/snack options for student-athletes and staff by providing better choices than the nearby fast food chains.
In addition, the SAAC Officers are now meeting once a month with the Director of Athletics to discuss implementing their goals and to express the concerns of UH student-athletes. Communication, visibility, accountability and the development of understanding and respect between teams has been the immediate result of the increased activity and expansion of UH SAAC.
The Houston SAAC President, Clark Mitzner, was also elected C-USA SAAC Chair and attended the NCAA Leadership Development Conference last summer to increase his knowledge of best practices and his leadership abilities.
Finally, the University of Houston recently celebrated homecoming last weekend. In an effort to narrow the gap between students and student-athletes, each team had the opportunity to participate in the Homecoming Parade with a decorated Golf Cart. Teams came up with a theme and decorated their carts. Themes included Track and Field’s “Beat it” by Michael Jackson (Beat the Mustangs), while the Swimming and Diving Team kept to the water (Drown the Mustangs!).
In all, it is safe to say that the “Sleeping Giant” has been awakened, and that the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee at the University of Houston is quite alive and active. The National SAAC is proud to recognize the University of Houston as one of the recipients of the Fall 2009 National SAAC Award of Excellence. Houston’s student-athletes have shown that inter-sport team work, collaboration, and support can go a long way. The many accomplishments of your student-athletes this fall semester set a great example for the untapped potential within student-athlete groups all over the country. Keep up the good work, and congratulations!
The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers
The student-athlete advisory committee at the University of Minnesota is rooted in a number of traditions that have had an incredibly deep impact on its surrounding communities. For quite some time, the Minnesota SAAC has served as a great example of how institutions around the country are working with student-athletes to give back to their communities. This year marked the 3rd annual “Allianz HopeKids HopeDay Festival.” The event is held on the first Sunday of the semester as a “welcome back” to student athletes. More importantly however, is the HopeDay festival which accompanies the event.
The HopeDay festival included sporting clinics from all 25 Gopher sports and student-athletes, including a dunk tank by the swim teams and obstacle course with the men's and women's track and field teams. Along with the student-athlete clinics, there are a variety of other activities for kids and families to attend, including pony rides, a petting zoo, a rock-climbing wall and face painting. The event drew over 500 student-athletes and over 1,400 members from the HopeKids organization.
HopeKids is an organization which gives hope to children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses and their families by participating in ongoing, highly anticipated events with the message of hope. The idea is that hope, in and of itself, is a very powerful medicine.
Eric Decker, a U of M football student-athlete was one of many student-athletes helping with HopeDay. "The whole time, you could tell the younger kids were definitely looking up to the college players. It wasn't that they were in awe; I think they just wanted a buddy." Decker explained, "Being around those kids, I realize how fortunate I am to be where I am at Minnesota."
While the Minnesota SAAC holds a number of community events on their campus, they also have many opportunities to go out into the community to touch lives. Perhaps the biggest accomplishment of Minnesota SAAC was the acquisition of a 21-passenger bus specifically used for community service. St. Jude Medical Foundation donated the bus largely in part to all the work that SAAC does in the Twin Cities community. St. Jude Medical Foundation was extremely impressed with the U of M SAAC and even had the bus wrapped in Gopher graphics, including action photos of student-athletes. Not only is this bus used to bring University of Minnesota student-athletes out into the community, but it is also used to bring young students on to the University of Minnesota campus for special programming. The M.A.G.I.C. (Maroon and Gold Impacting the Community) Bus bus was on the road six times in the first two weeks of the 2009-2010 school year, and is set to navigate the roads of the Twin Cities bringing education, fun and excitement to area youth for years to come.
The University of Minnesota and its initiative within the Minneapolis/St. Paul community makes them an exceptionally deserving candidate of the National SAAC Award of Excellence. While community service and outreach is not the only impressive facet of the student-athletes at the University of Minnesota, it is certainly noteworthy and very deserving of recognition. The NCAA Division I National SAAC is honored to recognize the University of Minnesota as one of the recipients of the Fall 2009 National SAAC Award of Excellence.Congratulations to both the University of Houston and the University of Minnesota. Your initiative, leadership qualities, and community outreach are exemplary qualities, and we are happy to present you both with this award.
Dr. Myles Brand will be remembered for his incessant passion for intercollegiate athletics and, more importantly, the student-athlete. From his undertakings as a university President to spearheading academic reform throughout the NCAA, Dr. Brand’s motives became increasingly clear: accountability & putting the student back in student-athlete. While we were playing our first high school games six or seven years ago, Dr. Brand was changing the academic landscape of intercollegiate athletics. Not only was he ensuring that we were prepared for our college courses, but he was also increasing the number of student-athletes that walked across the stage at graduation. He was acting as an agent of change long before most of us took the SAT's.
In our experiences with Dr. Brand, we can assure you that he was truly an advocate for student-athletes. His ability to see the big picture and articulate his answers regarding difficult topics was unmatched. No matter what the circumstance, Dr. Brand was always in our corner.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dr. Brand’s family and friends. We will truly miss Dr. Myles Brand.
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