Meghan Lyons, UNC Chapel Hill SAAC President, takes some time to share all the great work the UNC 
student-athletes have been up to this past semester.

As the fall athletic seasons come to an end, UNC student-athletes took time to reflect on all the events, games, 5Ks, school readings, field days, academics—and much more that student-athletes took part in this past fall. What a season it was! Not only did we have a fabulous athletic season, and especially this year, the overwhelming commitment to the university community has reached another level. 

During October, many UNC teams, administrators, and community members took a strong part in transforming Chapel Hill into a pink zone—representing our commitment to helping spread the word about National Breast Cancer Awareness month. In addition to hosting a “wear pink” day for all student-athletes and administrators, the football, field hockey, gymnastics, and women’s soccer teams hosted “Turn it Pink” games to support this effort. Both football and field hockey worked in conjunction with our own campus organization, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer to put on this event.

Carolina Dreams, a student-athlete group serving the North Carolina Children’s Hospital, has hosted various events already this fall, and expanded to host additional programs. The group has hosted two football games and a volleyball game in which they invite children from the UNC Hospitals and their families to spend time with student-athletes and enjoy a light dinner, before attending a UNC Athletic Event. Most recently, the group has developed a “Heel Date” program in which a children from the hospital who is well enough to experience a fun day out, will be selected to spend a day with a chosen Carolina student athlete. It has been a great success, and we have already hosted the first Heel Date with Men’s Basketball player Tyler Zeller.

The Men’s Tennis team ran last weekend in the 4th Annual Eve Carson Memorial 5K for Education. This race, held annually, is especially unique to the Tar Heel experience and tradition. Three years ago, this race was founded in honor of former Student Body President, Eve Marie Carson. She was widely known for her commitment to outstanding leadership and community service, as well as a passion for the university and its students. Her loss was deeply felt on March 5, 2008, but this race and various other Eve Carson campus events live on the memory of Eve and all she accomplished and was known for while at UNC.

Through the Carolina Leadership Academy, UNC student-athletes are given the opportunity to listen to several outstanding and motivational speakers throughout the year as “Life Skills Presentations”—this year was no exception. In October, we listened to Joe Erhmann, “Coach for America” speak to us about “Sports and Gender.” No one knew what to expect, walking into a talk with this title. Joe was outstanding and incredibly moving. We hope to have him back at UNC in the future! As a result of this compelling Life Skills presentation, UNC student-athletes have chosen to take part in the nation-wide “It Gets Better” video project.

Heading into the holiday season, many teams have already signed up to take part in a “Share Your Holiday Project,” with each team adopting a family in need and providing each family with holiday presents from the team, in addition to cards and other gifts from the teams. This is one of the projects student-athletes look forward to every year, and we have a record number of teams participating this year, including: volleyball, field hockey, lacrosse, tennis, golf, baseball, swimming and diving, and rowing. 

ELON, N.C. -- Elon Athletics and the Elon Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) is partnering with Allied Churches of Alamance County to collect new and gently used coats for both children and adults.

"It is important for SAAC to help because one of our purposes is to do service in our community," said SAAC co-president and football player Dale Riley.  "We like to present a positive image in the community not only as athletes in our respective sports, but in everything we do.  There is a need in our community and we want to help fill that need.  It is paramount to us that we leave Elon better than it was when we got here.  Elon has given us so much and continues to provide us with great memories, a great education and the opportunity to play in front of great fans.  This is a chance for us to give back and show our gratitude to the community."

Riley was inspired to push for this drive after a visit as a part of numerous Phoenix teams to Allied Churches opened his eyes to the need in the community for warm coats.  Riley saw numerous children without coats and learned about the many people in the community who have to sleep outside.  After seeing this, he thought that SAAC and the athletic department could tackle assisting the organization.

Coats will be collected at all home men's and women's basketball games through Dec. 14.  Coats will also be collected at this Saturday's Elon football game against Appalachian State.  Donation bins will also be stationed in both Alumni Field House and the Koury Athletic Center.  On game days, SAAC representatives will be on hand to accept coats as well as cash donations which will be used to purchase hats and gloves.

retrieved from:
Event attendance included National SAAC representatives Cassandra Lloyd (Horizon League), Alex Mendez (Big East Conference), and Logan Roberts (Big 12 Conference)

By Casey Richards

After hours of measuring, cutting and tying, hundreds of fleece blankets made by teams of student-athletes and area children piled up on three different tables.

 “These will keep somebody warm tonight,” said a local Salvation Army representative to cheers from the group.

The service activity was just one portion of the 2011 NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership Forum, an event featuring 333 student-athletes and administrators building their leadership skills.

Participants took part in activities Nov. 3-6 in Chicago that included breakout sessions on individual behaviors and values, discussions with national SAAC and NCAA representatives, and life-skills presentations.

The goal of the forum, according to NCAA Vice President of Student-Athlete Affairs Robert Vowels, is for participants to leave “empowered” and to “gain some momentum on campus.” 

Participating student-athletes were ready to carry out that charge.

“I’m going to bring some of these lessons back to my SAAC at school, but then also continue to help my team develop,” said Kate Gallagher, a sophomore golfer at Missouri.  “This conference is definitely going to help me help other people.”

The team sessions focused primarily on building leadership by identifying personal values and behavior.

“Being aware of yourself enables you to better lead those around you,” said Grand Valley State sophomore runner Leiah Hess. “If you’re not aware of yourself, then that makes it a little more difficult for people to follow you.”

Initiative activities like the Student-Athlete Olympics, which featured dance-offs, rock/paper/scissor contests and the limbo added to a weekend that Vowels called an opportunity to “enhance the student-athlete experience.” This manifests itself through participants leaving with not only valuable lessons, but lasting relationships formed through the various activities. 

“It’s been great,” said sophomore Southern Arkansas baseball player Jordan Hill on the forum’s second day.  “I’ve already met a handful of people I think I’ve already become really close with who I’ll probably keep in contact with.”

Athletics Professionals Benefit Also

While the forum focuses on student-athletes, athletics professionals were also present.  The forum allowed them to network and share ideas to build intercollegiate athletics as a whole.

“The biggest impact for me has been the networking,” said Lori Kerans, Millikin’s head women’s basketball coach, senior woman administrator and SAAC advisor. “What the NCAA allows us to do through this process is hear the best practices and the best ideas at other campuses.”

The name of the forum isn’t lost on the professionals, however, as they know how crucial it is for student-athletes to develop these skills both on and off the field.

“I think it’s absolutely vital,” said Minnesota State-Moorhead Athletics Director Doug Peters. “Everything rises and falls on leadership, and if we’re going to have success, our student-athletes need to have an understanding of leadership and the roles that they play.”

SAAC Interacts With Participants

Student-athletes and athletics professionals participating in the forum had a chance to interact with their divisional national SAAC representatives.

Members of each division’s national SAAC held hour-long discussions during which they got the student-athletes perspective on a variety of topics.

Division I held discussions on Proposal No. 2010-30, which would allow unlimited text messaging between prospective student-athletes and coaches.

Division II broke into round-table discussions focusing on Make-A-Wish ideas, various other community service opportunities, and web presence.

A variety of hot-button topics were discussed at the Division III level, including text messaging and a hardship waiver proposal that would prohibit student-athletes from being at practice while rehabbing from injuries.

The student-athletes in attendance appreciated the chance to share their opinions on a variety of topics and learn about how SAAC operates at the national level.

“We didn’t really understand why they would make these rules,” said Jerry Wang, a sophomore tennis player at Lake Forest. “Having a bunch of students and coaches put their opinions out there and listening to them talk, it helped me understand why we’re voting on (various legislative proposals).”

All three national SAACs will convene in Indianapolis Nov. 18-20.
By Michelle Brutlag Hosick

When Scott Krapf read that a group of student-athletes had signed a petition advocating for initiatives aimed at improving student-athlete well-being, he was puzzled.

Krapf, the chair of the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, said his gut reaction to the petition from the National College Players Association was why the SAAC was left out of the loop. That’s not necessarily because he agreed with what the petition seeks to accomplish but because the SAAC is the most credible student-athlete group in the NCAA governance structure to effect change.

The student-athletes who signed the petition want a portion of NCAA television revenues to more clearly benefit student-athletes. The petition, received at the national office from student-athletes at UCLA, Purdue and Georgia Tech, requests the money be used for “education, integrity and basic protections” like preventing permanently injured players from losing their scholarships and paying for sports-related medical expenses.

Krapf noted that some of the items the group requested, such as multi-year scholarships and raising limits to allow for funding beyond the amount of a full scholarship, were approved by the Division I Board of Directors last month.

But beyond that, Krapf believes that a petition is not the best method for student-athletes to influence change. Instead, he believes the SAAC, which has representatives at every Division I cabinet and council, should be the group interacting with Division I decision-makers.

“The NCAA has a mechanism by which the student-athletes can have a direct line of communication to those who are making these important decisions,” Krapf said. “Those decision-makers definitely seek our feedback; they want to hear from us.”

Krapf said the SAAC has not discussed the substance of the petition but that the group will do so later this month as part of its review of the presidential working groups appointed after the August presidential retreat. He hopes the student-athletes signing the petition – which include several in nonrevenue sports – will consider working through SAAC to make their voices heard in the future. 

In the past year, the national SAAC representatives (one from every Division I conference) have made considerable effort to get feedback from their individual conferences, especially in the high-profile sports of football and men’s and women’s basketball. Issues such as examining academic issues in those sports prompted SAAC members to solicit opinions from their colleagues. However, it wasn’t always easy to get feedback from those in high-profile sports.

“Perhaps that message hasn’t been communicated well enough to the general student-athlete population, so that they know we have the ability to influence these decisions,” Krapf said.

Kelvin Beachum, a football student-athlete from SMU, is a member of both the NCPA and the national SAAC. He is a proponent for student-athletes making their voices heard through any means necessary, and he believes the NCPA message of improved student-athlete well-being is a good one. But he also agrees with Krapf: He thinks the SAAC could lend a more credible voice.

“If you’re so passionate about these issues, why not get involved in the SAAC? I’m on board with what they (the NCPA members) are doing, but the way they went about it could have been different,” Beachum said. “The SAAC is geared toward talking directly to NCAA officials about the issues.”

Krapf said he looks forward to representing the voice of all student-athletes – not just the ones with the desire to serve on SAAC.

“I recognize that there are student-athletes who want to be heard,” he said. “I hope they can see what our committee can do for them.”
Scott Krapf Chair of the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee
Kelvin Beachum Conference USA Representative
Katie Carew, Siena College Swimmer, shares her experience at the MAAC SAAC fall meeting. 

The MAAC SAAC began its annual fall meeting today at Walt Disney World with a 6:30 am departure for the Give Kids the World Village in Kissimmee, Fl.  As part of its community service initiatives the MAAC SAAC served as breakfast volunteers at the complex that host children with life-threatening illnesses and their families at the 70-acre complex.  The ‘storybook’ resort has welcomed over 100,000 families since 1986 from all over the world.

The MAAC SAAC member’s day continues at 11 am at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Disney World where they will assist the MAAC staff in the operation of the 2011 Men’s Soccer Championship at the venue.  The championship will be broadcast on ESPN3.

Later a 5 pm NCAA issues and legislative session is scheduled for MAAC SAAC at the Norway Pavilion at EPCOT.  Dinner will be served and then a 90-minute presentation by the renowned Disney Institute Program on the subject of ‘Creativity”.  The day is capped by the famous EPCOT fireworks show at EPCOT.

MAAC Commissioner Richard Ensor notes that the MAAC SAAC “Represents the leadership of all 10 MAAC member institutions student-athlete campus SAAC.  The lessons of community service and leadership they learn this weekend are important for themselves and their fellow athletes.”