It’s usually not good news for the athletics department when a student-athlete goes to jail. But Charlotte track star Darius Law, who is accustomed to performing community service as a student-athlete, turned a trip to the pokey into a mission of mercy last summer. As he tells it ...

“My older brother LeRon has worked at the Wake County (North Carolina) Detention  Center for several years. At one point he realized, ‘Man these kids don’t have anything to do – no role model to look up to.’

“He called me and asked me to talk with them. I was like, why not? It was heart-wrenching to see those young kids locked up. I was hoping to get to at least a couple of them. There were about 20 to 25, ages 14 to 18. Some were in there for the weekend and others were in for a bit longer.

“I stressed setting goals and encouraged them to realize their potential. And I asked them, ‘How do you think your mom feels about you being in here?’ That’s one way you can always get to someone. Everyone wants to make their mom happy.

“And then I talked about college, which generated a lot of questions. Many of these kids wanted to go, but they had no idea how to even begin to get there. How do I qualify? How can I afford it? They didn’t know anything about financial aid. They saw it as a hopeless situation.

“Interestingly, a week later, I was going back to the jail to have lunch with my brother, and I ran into one of the kids who was in the group I spoke to. He stopped me before I went in and told me how much he appreciated me talking with them. He said he was going to do what he could to make his mom happy.

“It is moments like that which make you stop and say, ‘This is what I want my life to be about.’ It’s something so simple, like taking the time to talk with people in trouble. I may never see that person again, but that simple ‘thank you’ made it all worthwhile.”

By Gary Brown

At the end of a 30-minute interview with the down-to-earth and humble Darius Law, the Charlotte senior track star said, “Wait, one more thing. Everyone calls me ‘D-Law’ – my professors, my mom, my teammates. I wear a headband in track with ‘D-Law’ embroidered on the back. It’s not copyrighted, but I hope no one ever takes it from me.”

If anyone takes anything from D-Law, it would be a crime, because this is a young man who’s accustomed to giving back.

From working with Samaritan’s Feet to talking with mistake-prone kids at the Wake County Detention Center, “D-Law” at the tender age of 21 already understands that life isn’t a material pursuit.

That’s because he’s spent a lot of his own life around people who don’t have much to pursue.

Law’s mother operates a therapeutic foster care service from home, helping young people who suffer from behavior emotional disorder. Law has seen a lot of kids come and go, entering with a trash bag of clothes and leaving with little more.

“A lot of the kids who came in when I was really young I would get attached to, but they wouldn’t stay long, which took a toll on me emotionally,” he said.

And the one he got attached to that did stay awhile headed in a bad direction after he left (by law, foster kids who do not enter college have to leave the home when they turn 18). A couple of gangs and a bad drug deal later, the young man whom Law used to call a friend is on death row.

“I still write him letters and I’m still there for him, but I had to distance myself from him, too,” Law said. “I’ve seen so many kids make the wrong choices, and that has helped keep me on the right path.”

Law’s path was influenced by athletics, too. Though undersized, Law played basketball, baseball and football in middle school. “I was less than 100 pounds in ninth grade but I would always put 100 on the forms,” Law said.

That ninth-grade year was pivotal for Law. He got cut from all three teams and ended up with time on his hands. Law hit the books instead of the streets and began excelling academically. The reaction from his mother and his older brother LeRon was a boost.

“But I still felt like I was missing something,” Law said of the sports void.

He was pretty fast, and track was the only sport at his school that didn’t have cuts. By his junior year he was being recruited by a number of schools. “That opened my eyes to being able to access college through an athletics scholarship. Before that I thought my only chance was in academics,” he said.

He chose Charlotte over Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest and others because it was a better fit for him academically and athletically, and the aid package resulted in the least burden on his mom.

But he also knew he could contribute right away to a successful track program there. The 2008 Atlantic 10 Conference Rookie of the Year is now a four-time A-10 Student-Athlete of the Year and in 2010 was the only athlete to qualify for the NCAA outdoor championships in both the 200 and 400 meters. Law also is a first-team Academic All-American, a 4.0 student and recipient of the 2010 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar of the Year award, given to the top male minority student-athlete in the country.

His short-term dream is to participate in the Olympic Trials, and after graduating in May he’ll take the next year away from school to train. After that, it’s probably grad school or, appropriately, law school for Law.

Throughout that journey, expect Law to be giving, not taking.

“I want to be doing a lot of the same things I’m doing now, still giving back and doing what I can to help others,” he said. “Your journey to success shouldn’t be alone – you should be picking people up along the way and taking them with you.

Poughkeepsie, NY - Members of the Student Athlete-Advisory Committee along with members of the Iona College Golf and Rowing teams joined together to participate in Hands Around Iona.  Members of SAAC raised money and participated in the event on Tuesday, March 29th 2011.  This fundraiser is an annual event to support the children and communities of Africa.  Over the past few years, a number of Christian Brothers from Africa have come to Iona College to earn their degrees and return to their native country to work with the children and youth of their homeland. 

Br. Amandi Mboya and Br. Titus Kallon are two of the Brothers at Iona from Africa who have been working closely with the Tara Knights Society on this effort. Over the past four years, the Iona Community, together with the families of Adam Lynch and Jean-Claude Lovinsky, were able to raise a total of $10,000. The money raised was used to completely renovate a free primary school in Zambia as well as name classrooms after Adam and Jean-Claude.

In an effort to help reach out to the communities in need, Hands Around Iona was created. Funds raised this year will be used to construct a water well in Hamilton, an area located in Sierra Leone approximately 10 miles from the city of Freetown in Africa.  

By: Iona Athletic Communications 

Please allow me to take this opportunity to introduce myself to you as the Chair of the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for 2011. It truly is an honor to serve all of you in this role and I am humbled to have been entrusted with the responsibility. Although busy at times, serving as Chair is an amazing opportunity to lead a group that has a significant impact on the lives and careers of others and is dedicated to fulfilling the mission of the NCAA. The support of my fellow 30 Division I SAAC “co-chairs” and SAAC leaders at every campus and conference across the country is invaluable.  All of the individuals involved with our mission work tirelessly and dedicate countless hours of their time to enhance the student-athlete experience. For that, I offer them my sincere appreciation.

I want to assure all of you that Division I SAAC is committed to staying true to our mission which is to enhance the total student-athlete experience by promoting opportunity, protecting student-athlete well being, and fostering a positive student-athlete image.

To promote opportunity, we want to hear directly from you about what is going on at your campus and learn about any ideas you have to share with DI SAAC. Join our official Facebook group, One Division, One Voice, I am a NCAA Division I Student-Athlete, and follow us on Twitter @DivisionISAAC. You will also want to take advantage of the Division I SAAC website, www.nationalsaac.weebly.com. Here, you can find out much more information about who we are, how you can contact us, and ways to keep informed on continuing issues.

In order to protect student-athlete well being and foster a positive student-athlete image, Division I SAAC has frequent opportunities to speak with the membership and NCAA staff. When these opportunities arise, it is our responsibility to speak on behalf of all 140,000 Division I student-athletes. The only way we can truly serve as the voice of our peers, is to hear directly from all of you. I want to personally challenge each national, conference and campus SAAC member to stay engaged in current SAAC events and issues and reach out to the student-athletes in every sport on your campus. We all must be engaged and communicating with each other to be effective in this regard.

So let us move forward as One Division and One Voice to continue fulfilling the mission of Division I SAAC.

From the seat of the chair,

Scott Krapf
Chair, NCAA Division I National SAAC

KENT, Ohio

Performing for a large, rambunctious crowd is nothing new for Kent State student-athletes. However, this time their singing and dancing skills -- not their athletic talents -- will be on display for student body and the community.

Each of the 16 varsity athletic teams at Kent State University will be performing a choreographed lip sync and dance routine at the ninth annual Jock Jams fundraiser at 7 p.m., Monday, April 4th, in the Student Center Ballroom on the Kent State main campus.  All proceeds from Jock Jams will be donated to the American Cancer Society and Walls Elementary School.

The event showcases each athletic team as they compete before the public and a panel of judges for the annual Jock Jams trophy, which is awarded for the most creative and original performance. Last year, the event brought 1,500 students and members of the community together to raise nearly $4,000 for the American Cancer Society. Funds are raised through the $3.00 admission fee, t-shirt sales and general donations.

“Since Jock Jams inception in 2003, our student-athletes have raised more than $25,000 to help in the fight against cancer,” said senior associate athletic directorDr. Jennifer Kulics. “This opportunity truly means a great deal to our student-athletes because of the losses our department has suffered to cancer and due to staff members currently fighting the battle.”

During the past year, Kent State student-athletes have been traveling to Walls Elementary School in Kent, Ohio to spend time with the kindergarten through fifth grade students during their recess.  The program, “Fridays with the Flashes” has grown significantly throughout the year.  The student-athletes decided to expand their donations to include Walls Elementary School as well.  Donations to the school from Jock Jams will go toward the purchase of new playground equipment.

Jock Jams, the annual fundraising event sponsored by Kent State Athletics, is organized by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).  

“Jock Jams in one of our proudest accomplishments as student-athletes at Kent State,” said field hockey team member Carla Johl.  “Other universities around the country are trying to start an event like ours. They see how much we love getting the chance to compete against our fellow athletic teams, but most importantly that we really like to do what we can to raise money to help others in our community.”

“As student-athletes, we realize that we’re all really fortunate, and we look forward to raising money to help give something back to help people in need,” said SAAC president and volleyball team member Kristen Barr. “All of our teams work really hard to prepare an entertaining routine for Jock Jams. This event means a lot to us, and we really appreciate that the community and student body come and support the cause.”

“Those who haven’t seen a previous Jock Jams event are in for quite a surprise,” said director of student-athlete development Angie Seabeck. “A lot of these kids are amazingly talented dancers and choreographers.  Some of them even sing rather than lip-sync.  Their costumes are always entertaining as well – the crowd just loves seeing them perform like this.”

The general public is encouraged to attend the event for a $3.00 donation. All proceeds from Jock Jams will benefit the American Cancer Society and Walls Elementary School. For directions or further information about the 9th annual Jock Jams, contact Angie Seabeck at 330-672-4733