By: Kate Williams, Colonial Athletic Association National Division I SAAC representative  

On July 19th, 16 student-athletes landed in Carmel, Indiana for their first Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee meeting. They each represented one DI athletic conference, as well as varying institutions and sports.  

I was one of them. My name is Kate Williams. I am a field hockey student athlete from Towson University, and I represent the student athletes from the Colonial Athletic Association conference.

That first day, I flew in from Pennsylvania, nervous and excited for the next four days. Once the majority of the new members arrived, we met in Eugene Daniels’ room, our chair, where we mingled until our orientation. The orientation was full of background information and basic rules for us all to know. It was led by Daniels and Maddie Salamone, our vice chair, as well as all our NCAA liaisons. The orientation was probably the quietest moment of the weekend because once we all got to know each other, the talking never stopped. That night the newbies went out to dinner with some older members and took a scenic tour of Carmel, meeting some of the locals and posing with statues.

Friday, July 20 was the beginning of meetings with all 31 members of the committee. We were privileged with a trip to the NCAA headquarters where we met many employees who updated, not only the new members, but everyone about the on goings of the NCAA. We were even treated to a surprise visit from President Mark Emmert! It was a great deal of information to take in, but it was helpful for all the new members to get us all up to speed.

That afternoon was great fun with some media training. While learning some insightful tips on how to handle the media, a few members were interviewed on camera as NCAA communications managing director Amy Dunham gave them counsel. Many laughs were shared as we saw people try to handle the pressure.  That evening’s dinner was shared with Division II & III SAACs at the Stacked Pickle in Carmel. Meals were the second quietest moments of the weekend. Athletes like to focus on eating, so when the food came, the room went dead!

The next day was started again with meetings and a fun “ice” breaker. Some legislation was discussed and it was exciting to see all the new and old members talk about issues involving all student athletes. The new members weren’t afraid to speak up and the atmosphere in the room was alive and thriving.  The afternoon was a trip to the bowling alley to raise awareness for Samaritan’s Feet, an organization that gives shoes to those in need. I don’t know what was more fun, the barefoot bowling or the van ride there. DI SAAC has many good singers! Athletic competition ran high at the bowling alley, but everyone had a good time. The overall winners and the winners of the losers game all got to ride back to the hotel in style, while everyone else was packed into a smaller van. That night we had dinner at the hotel and then hung out and got to know everyone. It was true what the older members said: we would all get to know each other very well over the weekend, and we did!

The last day let everyone have time to break into groups to discuss DI SAAC’s initiatives and wrap up the fun, busy weekend. Then the group broke up and everyone headed home. It was clear that while everyone looked like they needed sleep, no one wanted to leave. The group was an awesome thing to be a part of and I know every new member is counting down the days until the next one in November. 

By: Tristany Leikem, Atlantic 10 Conference  National SAAC Representative 

Last week, Indianapolis was the center of attention for football fans across the nation. The infamous Super Bowl took place at the home of the Colts, where the top two football teams of the year competed at Lucas Oil stadium. Just a few weeks earlier, Indianapolis was home to the less infamous NCAA Convention. Although the NCAA receives a lot of attention during the year, a large portion of that attention is the result of NCAA violations and other negative topics. To me, the lack of positive coverage is saddening. The public must know that the NCAA does not begin and end with its headquarters in Indianapolis. The substance of the NCAA is its membership, made up of over 1,200 academic institutions across the nation. Although a few collegiate sports dominate sports media, more than 400,000 student-athletes compete in NCAA competitions at all levels and in all arenas.

Every student-athlete has a unique experience throughout their intercollegiate athletic careers. My athletic adventures led me to a position on the Division I National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). In January, I was fortunate to attend the 2012 NCAA Convention  as a student-athlete representative and delegate. Overall, the experience was absolutely unbelievable. In my first year as a member of the Division I SAAC, my view of my role as a student-athlete and my understanding of the NCAA have dramatically changed.

My freshmen year, I joined a group on campus called the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, also known as “the SAAC.” To me, SAAC was a group of student-athletes on campus that organized food drives, raised money for charity and met once every other week. To me, being a student-athlete meant constant competition against athletes from other conferences and institutions. During my junior year I was asked to participate in monthly conference calls for the Atlantic 10 SAAC as an alternate for our institutional representative. Little did I know that these calls would lead me to my position on the Division I NationalSAAC. I realize now that one of the best decisions I ever made in college was to join SAAC and stick with it. 

Now, with three DI SAAC meetings under my belt (including the NCAA Convention), I have met the most amazing student-athletes and NCAA staff members, and I have a renewed appreciation for my position as an NCAA student-athlete. There are many changes occurring in the NCAA, and it would behoove all student-athletes to sit up and pay attention because #OURvoice should be heard throughout college athletics. A collaborative effort should be made at all levels to engage student-athletes, administrators, and the NCAA membership and staff in a reciprocal and productive conversation about all aspects of college athletics. Stand up and be heard, and maybe one day the NCAA Convention and the student-athletes who make up the NCAA will be as talked about as the NFL Super Bowl.

This year Kansas Athletics marked its 7th Annual Jayrock, a student-athlete variety show held once a year by Jayhawk SAAC. Student-athletes were treated to a preshow meal before filing in to watch nine teams perform live acts and compete head to head for the title of Jayrock Champion 2012.

Scot Pollard, former Jayhawk and NBA champion, hosted the 90’s themed evening dedicated to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Jayhawk SAAC chose the charity after meeting a patient from the hospital earlier in the year whose story greatly impacted the group. Teams raised over $1,000 from family, friends and athletics staff to sponsor their acts, all of which was donated to St. Jude.

For weeks teams prepared for what has been described as “the best Jayrock ever.” The event is a chance for teams to bond and the night showcases unique and surprising aspects to Jayhawk student-athlete personalities. The night’s results were as follows:

                                1st Rowing

                                2nd Football

                                3rd Tennis

Football player and SAAC Exec representative Chad Kolumber and SAAC Graduate Assistant and former softball player, Ally Stanton bring you the night’s highlights.

Jayrock MVP:

Chad says: The Student-Athlete Development Department Staff because they motivated teams that haven’t performed in Jayrock for years. They helped our team choreograph and put together a skit in a short period of time that even placed.

Ally says: Claire Dryer from Tennis. The Tennis skit was decent and well-rehearsed, but Claire brought home that trophy for them. She had no reservations up on stage.

Biggest Laugh
Chad says: The “Hold On” video with Mason Finely. Seeing him acting feminine, it’s not something you would expect from someone of his stature.

Ally says: Defintely the “Hold On” video.

check out the video:

Practice Pays Off
Chad says: I’m going to say Track & Field. The stomping routine they did takes a lot of practice.

Ally Says: Rowing’s Mario Brothers skit. They put so much time into their props and the timing of their skit. They definitely deserved their first place finish.

Jayhawk SAAC is already looking to next year’s Jayrock and they have hopes to expand the audience to the public and significantly increase its fundraising. For more Jayrock videos check out the Jayhawk SAAC YouTube channel JayrockTalent. 

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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Retrieved from
By Michelle Brutlag Hosick 

When the presidents on the Division I Board of Directors came into the boardroom on Jan. 14, they were poised to continue the fast-moving changes that began with the presidential retreat last August.

Having just spent two hours at breakfast with student-athletes representing almost all the Division I conferences, they also were armed with the unique perspective that only the student-athletes could give them. In small groups, the presidents and student-athletes discussed the reform agenda and what the Board would vote on later that day.

The student-athletes took full advantage of that opportunity, and several presidents said their opinions on certain issues – and ultimately their votes – were swayed by their interaction with the people those decisions affect the most.

“If you don’t hear the voices of those most affected by the changes you are making, you get all these unintended consequences that could have been avoided. The most important thing we do I believe wholeheartedly is to protect the welfare of these student-athletes,” said Wright State President David Hopkins. “We have to create more opportunities to hear their stories, to understand their challenges and to understand the impact of the policy changes we are making.”

Oregon State President Ed Ray, who also chairs the Executive Committee, said the discussions with the student-athletes, both at the breakfast and during the Division I Issues Forum, informed the Board’s thinking leading up to the votes.

“In my opinion, student input was critical to leading us to the right decisions,” he said, noting that on one occasion, the student-athlete input helped improve language in a proposal, and on other occasions swayed opinion significantly.

“The conversations are helpful in the sense that one can help others best if the people you are trying to help can express their own opinions of proposed changes,” Ray said. “More than once I learned that policies intended to benefit students were seen quite differently by them.”

The student-athletes were thrilled that the Board was so receptive to their messages. Maddie Salamone, lacrosse student-athlete from Duke and vice chair of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, said that when she and her colleagues talked, the presidents really listened.

“We were able to sway what they thought based on our experiences and the impact we believed some of the policies they were considering would have,” Salamone said. “While we agree with their initiative and the sentiment to benefit student-athletes, they could do things differently.”

The SAAC has a representative on each of the presidential working groups, and the student-athletes aren’t afraid to influence the policies and proposals as they are formed.

Curtis Schickner, a baseball student-athlete from UMBC and another vice chair of the SAAC, said he feels the student-athletes not only have been included in the process but also have been an important and respected part of reform. Schickner serves on the Collegiate Model – Rules working group.

“I’m the only student-athlete in there, and I’m the only one who knows. When I speak up, everyone looks up and listens to what I’m saying. I feel like my voice is really making an impact,” he said. “For me, it’s picking and choosing our battles … Ultimately, they are making these changes for student-athlete well-being and to make sure our experience is as good as it can be. Taking our view into consideration is just as important as any other group within the NCAA.”

SAAC chair Eugene Daniels, football student-athlete at Colorado State, said the student-athletes feel empowered to speak up if they disagree, and they feel respected when they do it.

“I think (the governance representatives) respect us because we’re so well-informed, intelligent and hard-working,” Daniels said. “That’s what it takes to be a student-athlete.”

That dedication is the reason some of the presidents stay so involved with NCAA governance. Middle Tennessee State President Sidney McPhee, in his second term on the Board in the last decade, said interacting with the student-athletes has had a significant impact not only on the legislation the Board adopts (or defeats) but also on him personally.

“Listening to these bright young people who are doing wonderful things on their campuses and are committed to academics and athletics gives me that extra energy and motivation to rejuvenate me,” McPhee said.

Ray called the conversations with SAAC student-athletes “informative and inspiring.”

“The conversations have been very rewarding for the presidents by both helping us improve legislation important to students and by providing us with an opportunity to meet exceptional young people doing extraordinary service for others, while balancing their academic studies and engagement in competitive athletics,” he said. “There are cynics who claim the amateur athlete model never existed and that intercollegiate athletics is not worth fighting for, but these young people give the presidents real confidence that what we seek to protect and perfect in the NCAA is very much worth fighting for and communicating to the broader public.”

Maddie Salamone
Curtis Schickner
Eugene Daniels
Ben Swinford, a Cornell University baseball player and National SAAC member representing the Ivy League, shares his thoughts about a recent community service outreach project conducted by the Division 1 National SAAC in Indianapolis this past November.  

During the most recent D1-SAAC meetings held in November at the NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis, we were able to take some time outside of the conference room and give back to the community. This time, we were lucky enough to partner with the incredible non-profit: Samaritan’s Feet. We hopped on a bus and traveled a quick five miles to the outskirts of downtown Indianapolis, ending at our destination: the Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center.

Our task for the afternoon: wash the feet of and distribute new shoes to the hundreds of men, women, and children that come in. Having never worked with Samaritan’s Feet before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, on arrival, the greeting of warm smiles from the children waiting in line, volunteers of the community center, and Todd Melloh from Samaritan’s Feet reassured me that this would be a great experience and excellent opportunity to help out.

There were approximately twenty of us from D-1 SAAC washing feet, and we each worked with 8-12 people over the course of the afternoon. It was a great experience. I’ll never forget the first guy that stepped up to my station: Jimmy, a 14-year old swimming fanatic from two blocks down the road. He came in that day with his 4 younger brothers and one brave, strong mother. With size 15 feet, I could tell he had a chance to be a great swimmer. While talking with him over the next twenty minutes, I came to realize it had been 3 years since he last owned a pair of new shoes. He was thrilled when he walked away with a new pair Air Max Nikes laced up on his feet. About an hour later, Santiago, a 42 year-old father of six came through my station. He had just gotten off of a 12 hour day/night shift at the junkyard. It was great to see this incredibly nice man walk away with a brand new pair of bright-white Adidas and an even brighter smile.

As we packed up to head back for a final round of meetings for that night, I think we were all extremely grateful for this opportunity to partner with Good Samaritan’s Feet and volunteer at the Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center. Not to be too cliché, but this is truly an experience I will never forget. 

Story written by Curtis Schickner, a baseball player from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the America East Conference National SAAC Representative. 

The November meeting proved one thing to all of us:  the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee is the voice of Division I student-athletes. Our role, mission and overall reach has grown tremendously since I joined the committee in July. The NCAA has noticed the importance of the student-athlete voice and included us in many discussions and collaborations. Our perspective as student-athletes is unique and the NCAA liaisons, conference administrators, and university leaders rely on us to provide tangible feedback on the issues that affect the student-athlete experience. From the recruiting process to the NCAA Championships, SAAC provides feedback and helps guide the NCAA towards positive changes and increased opportunities for student-athletes. During our November meeting, Dr. Mark Emmert, NCAA President, spent time with the Division I SAAC and sought feedback on the changing landscape of Division I, as well as the Presidential Working Groups that are currently transforming college athletics. There is no other group of student-athletes in the country that has a stronger voice than SAAC, and the scope of our influence seems to increase at every meeting.

In addition to serving as representatives of Division I student-athletes, DI SAAC also strives to serve the community.  During the November meeting, the committee volunteered with Samaritan's Feet. The service event humbled me in so many ways and inspired me to look into similar opportunities on my own campus. I am a firm believer that individuals must serve others before they become true leaders. I think all of us accepted this challenge and enjoyed giving back to that community and to the people who needed us most. Community service often covers a broad array of activities, but I feel that social engagement, with the people you are looking to help, gives the most positive influence to both parties. Samaritan's Feet offered this one-on-one, hands-on engagement with people in need and I strongly believe that both the community and National SAAC benefited from this event. My goal before graduation is to bring Samaritan's Feet to Baltimore and host an event with the students of University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The need for help can be found in every city, but is especially prevalent in the city of Baltimore. Our student-athletes, coaches, and administration would enjoy the opportunity and hopefully change the lives of some members in our local communities. 

Through leadership and service, Division I SAAC is making a difference. I strongly encourage every student-athlete to reach out to their team representatives and to get involved with SAAC. Whether it’s providing a unique perspective or raising an issue that affects student-athletes, your voice needs to be heard before change can occur. National SAAC will continue to support Division I student-athletes in every capacity, and we look forward to hearing any feedback or concerns that you, as student-athletes, have about your experience in Division I.  

For more information about SAAC visit
By Michelle Brutlag Hosick
In its first-ever electronic override vote, Division I members decided to retain legislation that prevents an institution from hosting, sponsoring or conducting a nonscholastic basketball practice or game in which  men’s basketball prospects participate on its campus or at an off-campus facility it uses regularly.

The proposal was intended to address a proliferation of nonscholastic men’s basketball events held on Division I campuses during quiet periods, especially in May and June.

To be successful, 62.5 percent of those voting needed to support the override. When polls closed, 58.59 percent of 355 schools voting were in favor of the override.

Those who don’t want those events (that is, supporters of the proposal) say they are being planned and operated to help institutions with recruiting but that college coaches are being leveraged to help event operators arrange for discounted operational costs under the threat that event operators will take the event (and all of the prospects) to another institution’s campus.

The Division I National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee opposed the override, agreeing that recruiting advantages were significant for schools that host such events.

The Recruiting and Athletics Personnel Issues Cabinet sponsored similar legislation for the 2011-12 cycle relating to women’s basketball at the request of the Women’s Basketball Issues Committee and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. The membership’s vote on the override of men’s basketball issue will be instructive to the Legislative Council in that regard.

Schools that submitted override requests cited the loss of revenue potential as their primary concern.

“The scope of this legislation is far too broad and its impact does more than just limit illegitimate groups from using an institution’s facility,” Rice assistant athletics director for compliance Michael Dean wrote in the electronic comment section. “Across the country, athletics departments and institutions are facing serious budget cuts. With this legislation, a critical piece of possible revenue is eliminated.”

Supporters of the override also pointed the proposal’s inclusion of off-campus facilities used regularly by the school’s men’s basketball team. That prohibition was an overreach and requires institutions to control outside facilities, they argue.

That proposal received 35 override requests, but the Legislative Council and Board of Directors both voted to maintain support of its earlier action.

Division I adopted legislation in April to allow override votes to be conducted electronically rather than in person at the NCAA Convention. The electronic process included a ten-day window for comments from supporters and those who oppose the legislation. Voting began December 12 and closed December 16.