Hi, my name is Carolyn Boyd, I am a softball student-athlete from Stetson University, and I represent the student-athletes of the Atlantic Sun Conference. That is the 100th time I have said that this week! Going into my first NCAA Division I National SAAC meeting, I was told to “sit back and take everything in,” but anyone who knows me knows that’s a challenge. I’m the kid in class who asks the questions, and that didn’t change much in our National DI SAAC meetings. I had no idea what to expect or what I had gotten myself into, but I found myself surrounded by an incredible group of student-athletes who share the same passions that I do. It was one of the coolest feelings ever, and I’m still in awe about the whole experience.
Things started Friday morning and continued through Saturday and Sunday. Each day, National DI SAAC’ers who serve on NCAA Cabinets and Committees reported back to the group any important information that was discussed in their last meetings. Also, a handful of guest speakers paid us a visit as the weekend progressed. Here are some things I found interesting (and I hope you do too!):
· Qualifier vs. Non-qualifiers out of high school: Did you know that if a non-qualifier goes to a junior college before a Division I institution, he or she must meet different requirements than a qualifier does in order to be eligible?
· The Awards, Benefits, Expenses and Financial Aid Cabinet is working to exempt need-based aid from counting towards a team’s financial aid limit, which includes athletic scholarships as well as federal and academic financial aid rewards.
· There is a Title IX coordinator at every school (that’s something I didn’t know!).
· The NCAA just signed a new contract with Turner and CBS Sports for $775 million a year, but you want to know the cool thing about it? That money goes back into the NCAA to be divided amongst its member institutions. Ever heard of the Student Athlete Opportunity Fund?
· The Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR) is meant to serve as a liaison between the institution and the athletic department. There’s one on every campus!
· Matt Horn (the Big South National SAAC rep) told us about an awesome service organization called Samaritan’s Feet. It is a humanitarian relief organization that puts shoes on the feet of children in 50 countries all over the world. Check it out at www.samaritansfeet.org .
We discussed so many issues, but from what I understand, it was nothing compared to what we will face in our next meeting in November!
We did get a break from Grand Ballroom IV on Friday afternoon, where we really got to dig in and use our hands—literally. All the NCAA SAACs (Divisions I, II and III) came together and did a community service project. We got the chance to get to know a larger group of NCAA athletes while we pulled weeds at the White River State Park (Indiana’s only urban state park!). Following the park clean up, we competed against the Division II and Division III in a friendly game of kickball.
My first National Division I SAAC experience was definitely eye-opening. It is extremely humbling to be part of such an amazing group of people that only come together for one purpose: to speak on behalf of all 160,000 NCAA Division I student-athletes. I can see this experience is going to change my life, and I’m ready to jump right in.
It is an amazing thing to go six months without seeing a group of people and still feel as though you saw them yesterday. Reconnecting may take a few minutes to catch up, but the old jokes, laughs and relationships are back in a flash. Arriving Thursday came with a lot of excitement. I received a text message from Patrick Jenkins with the great news that I would have transportation from the airport to the hotel and it would be in the company of four other SAAC’ers. A great start to a great week. It started with lunch, then dinner with everyone to catch up with, share stories and meet the newbies. We had great night and got a lot of rest for the day to come.
Meetings in the morning discussed topics that ranged from Awards Benefits and Expenses and Financial Aid (the longest committee name known to man) updates, to the most favorite Amateurism update. All activities were just getting us ready for the fun to come. We began our short trot to our community service activity to pull weeds, pull some more weeds, and sweat a lot in the process. But, it was all for a good cause in the end, and close to 100 of us managed to perform a day’s worth of work in one hour. After community service that afternoon came the real reason for July’s meeting: to compete in kickball. Although Division III was coming off a championship victory last year, we felt our chances to dethrone them were very high. Game One against DII was a hard fought defensive battle, but in the end our ability to manufacture runs with a get-on-base tag-up scheme proved very successful and resulted in victory. After the hard fought win, we had to face the defending champs. They had the advantage of sitting out and scouting our first performance and game planned very well. The first inning was far from mistake free and a deflating loss ensued. We tried our hardest but couldn’t overcome the 3-0 deficit of the first inning. We showed great promise for the next battle and hoped the new replacements were ready for success. After the game, we all engaged in a sportsman-like association wide pizza dinner. It was a great conclusion to an amazing day.
Day Two, on the other hand, was strictly business. We summed up the previous day's activities and got straight to it. We discussed legislation and TV contracts, enforcement and the basketball focus group, FARA and new legislation for the next cycle to finally conclude with the mother of them all, more Commercialism. After all that business, the committee attended our traditional farewell dinner. This is where we all go out to eat together and say our goodbyes to the departing members. This year, just as every other year, we had to say good bye to a great group of committee members. Dinner finished and the good bye speeches began with nothing but laughs, memories and a quite a few tears. Although chaos cut our night short out on the town, we ended the evening together again. The last day was very little business and a lot of goodbyes. We met in the morning to close up the weekend and say our last goodbyes. To end where I started, with the completion of another meeting and four months till our next, there will be no lost time once we all come together again.