Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fall 2009 National SAAC Award of Excellence

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.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Remembering Our "Head Coach"

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.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Catching Up with Aminah Charles

Currently, Aminah Charles (MEAC/Hampton University) is doing an internship at Nike Headquarters in Oregon. We caught up with her and asked her a few questions about this tremendous opportunity. For more information about internships at Nike, visit them on the web at

What are your daily responsibilities?

Everyday is a little bit different from the last. Some my responsibilities include creating PowerPoint decks for our advertising team. I have worked on our digital & retail global marketing strategies for our 2010 season, conducted consumer research and focus groups. As an intern I have also been involved with the preparation for photo shoots and putting together our marketing strategy for the Serena and Maria’s run at the US Open.

What is your favorite part of the job?

My favorite part of the job is that I get a first hand look into all of the new upcoming products and technology that Nike will be offering in future seasons. I have gotten a peek at the new shoes and apparel that will be on the market in the 2011 season, its really cool to see how the company is always trying to stay on the cutting edge of style, fashion and performance.

Most intriguing person you have met while working there?

It’s a three way tie between Michael Jordan, Lebron James, and Howard White.

On our first day of intern orientation MJ came to campus for a special ceremony that celebrated his 25 year relationship with Nike. We all got to sit in on the ceremony, and then afterwards we got to join him at an afternoon employee celebration. During the summer Lebron James came to campus and I actually ran into him on my way to get some breakfast at the cafeteria in my building. Howard White is the Vice president of the Jordan Brand and I actually got the opportunity to sit down with him for an hour long meeting. His success story is very interesting and he had tons of great advice about life to share with me. Anyone who knows Howard White would tell you that he’s one of the funniest most inspiring people that you will ever meet.

Is there a particular aspect of marketing/branding your job? What about this do you like?

The best part of marketing and branding in Nike Women’s Training is that you get to develop stories around key female athletes, helping elevate women sports. Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and Tiger Woods are all global sports icons. Working in Women’s Training gives me the opportunity to help work toward developing the female icons of the future; this hopefully will inspire girls around the country.

How has your career as a student-athlete prepared you for this internship?

My career as a student athlete has definitely given me the upper edge here at Nike. The strong network of people that I was able to build as a student athlete helped get me the position. Also, working in a hectic environment my time management skills that I developed as an athlete has helped me excel in the work place. Nike is all about competition and getting that victory, we have a vey competitive atmosphere here. Everyday I am able to use that competitive drive I have to help make Women’s Training one of the strongest categories in the company. My co-workers also really respect and value my opinion simply because their consumer is the athlete.

How will this experience affect your career in the future?

This experience has helped me developed many of the necessary skill sets that would help me function in any career. Over the past few months I have been a sponge soaking up tons of advice and learning new things from everyone around me. The work experience that I have gained from working on various projects and the network that I have built will hopefully help shape my career in the future.

One thing about Nike HQ that most people do not know.

Nike HQ is such a huge place. It reminds me of a college campus, everything you need to live is right here. There are two workout facilities, a soccer field, football field, softball field, outdoor sand volleyball courts, convenient stores, cafeterias, restaurants, a air salon, training rooms/rehab center, dry cleaning and much more. If I had a bed I could probably live here!

What is the best local restaurant?

In my opinion RIB City. It’s a taste of the south right here in Portland, great barbeque ribs, the best sweet tea, and delicious chicken!

Friday, September 11, 2009

First National SAAC Experience

Commercialism, Kickball, and Aladdin. These diverse topics are what really stood out to me when I went to my first Division I National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee meeting, held in Denver, Colorado from July 16-19.

I did not know what to expect prior to the meeting, but it turned out to be one of the best experiences in my life. The trip got off to a great start when I made my connecting flight from Dallas to Denver. I usually miss my connecting flight, so this was a sign of a great weekend to come. Upon arriving in Denver, I got to my hotel quickly, unpacked, and took a quick nap. After a little while, I was woken up by my roommate for the weekend, Jarrett Newby, the Conference USA representative. Jarrett, a veteran of the National SAAC, gave me some quick tips on what to expect. He also told me about how interesting the conversations would be during the meetings and also how great everyone on the committee was. By this time it was dinner, and we then went out to the Cheesecake Factory where I met more members from the SAAC.

The next morning we had our first meeting. At the meeting, I had a chance to meet the remaining committee members. I really enjoyed the subject matter and all the conversations in which I took part. One of my favorite memories from the trip occurred when I introduced myself at the joint SAAC meeting. In addition to a standard introduction—saying what conference you were representing—we then had sing two lines from your favorite song. Unfazed, I decided to go first. Much to the surprise of everyone, I sang A Whole New World from Aladdin. After I finished, I received a rousing ovation. This was something I was very proud of considering it is not often that I sing in front of a large group.

After displaying my amazing singing skills, we went to the Jackie Robinson Sports Center. Here, all of the SAAC members worked with Special Olympic athletes on some softball drills. This experience was extremely rewarding and enriching. Following the softball drills, the Division I SAAC members played the Division II and III members in kickball. During the first game I would become a goat for striking out, which is sad considering I play soccer. I, however, did gain some kickball respect five minutes later when I made a great diving catch. Although we lost to the Division III team, we had a great time.

Additional meetings occurred over the next couple of days, and we discussed many important issues. My favorite conversation was when we discussed the topic of commercialism with Greg Shaheen, NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball and Business Strategies. Overall I had an awesome experience in Denver, and I am looking forward to my future endeavors with the Division I SAAC.

Zach Solomon, The Patriot League

Monday, August 31, 2009

20 Hour Practice Rule in Division I

There seems to be a lot of hoopla about the story that broke on Friday involving The University of Michigan and the allegations that their football team was over the 20 hour limit. I have no idea what is going on in Wolverine country, but I do know that there are a number of common misconceptions that student-athletes have about 20-hour and 8-hour practice limitations.

I have had the opportunity to attend a number of NCAA Regional Leadership and NCAA Student-Athlete Development conferences over the past two years as a member of National SAAC. Without fail, at every conference there have been a handful of student-athletes who approach me because they think they are well above the 20-hour practice rule that is in use by the NCAA. After a brief discussion with the student-athletes, it is common that we realize that they have not broken the 20-hour rule, they simply don’t understand it. This is not to say that this rule is always followed. I am sure that there are a number of instances where student-athletes are going over their allowable 20 hours. If this is the case, the best thing to do is to report this to your compliance officer. But before we all cry wolf, I think it is important that we truly understand what is allowable under the 20 hour practice limitations.

The 20 hour rule was adopted in 1991 to reduce the amount of required time students spend on athletically related activities for academics and college experience. It is crazy to think that this rule wasn’t always in existence, but apparently our grandparents not only had to walk to school uphill both ways, but they also were allowed to practice and compete as much as their coach desired. Where student-athletes get caught up under the current guidelines is in distinguishing between countable and non-countable related activities.

Here are some of the stipulations of the 20 hour rule.

1. To be countable, the purpose of a given activity must be monitored by coaching staff.

2. No student-athlete may have mandatory practice for more than 4 hours per day – with an exception for men’s and women’s golf.

3. Competition counts as 3 hours – even if your track meet lasts all day.

4. You must have one day off per week, though this can be your travel day to or from a competition.

5. Mandatory practice does not include time in the training room for getting taped/rehabilitated, or time that is not spent with your coach – often referred to as ‘captain’s practice’

6. You compliance team meeting, or other time spent incidental to participation also does not count. This could possibly even include time spent in the film room if coaches are not supervising.

7. In order for something to be ‘voluntary’, it must not be required that you report back to the coach. Voluntary workouts can also be conducted in athletics facilities as long as a coach is not directly supervising.

8. There are also a number of other stipulations for the 8 hour rule – for when you are out of season – that are equally important.

The fact of the matter is that the 20 hour rule is actually pretty black and white. It is our responsibility to eliminate the gray area by educating ourselves and our teammates on what is and is not permissible. Your campus compliance directors know this stuff like the back of their hands. If you have a question about it – ask! You are also welcome to contact your National SAAC representative if you need further clarification, or even if you just want to get the student-athlete perspective.

With all of the added treatments, tutoring sessions, and team meetings, our 20 hour max can often seem like 40 or 50 hours – but at least we have a max! If you still think your team is going over the limit, you should talk to your compliance director – and talk to your grandfather. He’ll be sure to tell you about the good ol’ days!

Matt Baysinger

Chair, NCAA Division I SAAC

University of Kansas

Big 12 Conference


*Please reference NCAA Bylaw 2.14 for further information as well.

Monday, August 24, 2009

New Division I SAAC Members Have Been Announced!

On behalf of the Division I National SAAC, we would like to congratulate the following individuals for being nominated and selected to serve on the DI SAAC:

· Bob Nolte, America East Conference, Swimming, Binghamton University.

· D’Andre DeVon Bell, Atlantic Coast Conference, Basketball, Georgia Institute of Technology.

· Norah Swanson, Big East Conference, Soccer, Georgetown University.

· Natalia Maria Christenson, Ivy Group, Tennis, Columbia University.

· Eugene Daniels, Mountain West Conference, Football, Colorado State University.

· Lauren Chapman, Northeast Conference, Golf, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Metropolitan.

· Jonathan Hackett, Pacific-10 Conference, Volleyball, University of Southern California.

· Matthew Horn, Big South Conference, Soccer, Winthrop University.

· Natalie Hemphill, West Coast Conference, Cross Country, University of Portland.

“We are very excited about the appointment of these members and what they can bring to National SAAC in the coming years,” said Matt Baysinger (Big 12), current chair of the National SAAC. “Their diverse backgrounds and experiences will help expand the perspective of our committee when looking at student-athlete issues.”

From a Business Communications major from California coast to a swimming student-athlete from upstate New York, the newly appointed members come from all over the map. However, they all share a common characteristic: exemplary leadership qualities. Current Media Chair Brian Alas (Atlantic 10) commented, “Not only are these student-athletes leaders on the field, but they truly showed the initiative to be leaders off the field as well. That is an invaluable characteristic that we feel can enhance the dynamic of our committee.”

When asked about what their selection meant to them, Eugene Daniels (Mountain West) described it as, “an honor and a privilege…to represent the student-athletes of the Mountain West Conference.” Natalia Christenson (Ivy Group) echoed similar sentiments, “Being a member of the DI National SAAC is an unbelievable opportunity not only to represent the opinions and values of Ivy League athletes, but also to enhance my understanding of the collegiate athletic experience by communicating with athletes from other conferences.”

Congratulations again to our newest members!!! Please check back regularly as more blog posts will be posted shortly.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

2009 National Student-Athlete Development Conference

The 2009 National Student-Athlete Development Conference convened in Orlando, Florida at the Coronado Springs Resort in Walt Disney World from May 24-27. Despite some uncharacteristic weather in Orlando, close to 600 of the nation’s top student-athlete leaders gathered without letting the rain damper their spirits. These leaders came together to shed light on numerous important issues facing student-athletes today. The conference was also an opportunity for student-athletes to enhance their leadership skills and network with administrators as well as with one another through a variety of activities. The student-athletes in attendance started a journey of self discovery that will continue well beyond the days, weeks, months and years after this conference.

I was joined at the conference by 11 of my fellow National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) members from all divisions (I, II, and III). The responsibilities of being among the 12 National SAAC members were numerous; including helping the NCAA staff set up the different rooms of the conference, organizing different items necessary for the activities, being airport ambassadors for the arriving student-athletes at the conference, and more. I credit the NCAA staff on doing a phenomenal job of preparing for and running the conference. Without their tireless efforts and hard work, events such as these are nothing more than an idea without feasibility.

Perhaps most notably, however, each divisional National SAAC was charged with the task of organizing a 1 hour 45 minute SAAC session (one for each division). This session was the highlight of our time spent at the development conference. Having the chance to meet and interact with student-athletes from all around the county on a level such as this is certainly a rarity for us as a National SAAC. Numerous conference calls and months of practice went into preparing the material for this session, along with some incredible assistance from NCAA staff members Beth DeBauche and Kelly Groddy. Because the 600 student-athletes in attendance were selected for their exceptional leadership qualities and uniqueness, we wanted to be sure to provide knowledge that those in attendance could take back with them to their respective campuses and use to enhance their student-athlete experiences.

The National SAAC Education and Feedback session was a great dialogue, which was highly anticipated due to the credentials for which they were chosen. After the session, the National SAAC members felt that we thoroughly and effectively communicated the most important and pertinent information to the attendees including a background on what the National SAAC is and our role in the NCAA governance structure, why the student-athlete voice and opinion matters, an explanation of various issues affecting student-athletes, initiatives spearheaded by the National SAAC, and the opportunity for the student-athletes to directly voice their opinions and concerns to us and the NCAA membership. More importantly, I think we all walked away having learned as much as we taught. It is truly refreshing to have the opportunity to realign our goals and make sure that we are connecting with all 160,000 Division I student-athletes.

This was my first opportunity to attend one of these conferences (either regional or national) and I had heard that witnessing the student-athletes at these conferences is pretty spectacular. Now that I have had the pleasure of interacting with these student-athletes, it gives me confidence that the future leaders of tomorrow are well on their way to achieving great things and accomplishing great feats. Often times, as student-athletes, we are viewed from the narrow perspective of only our athletic feats. But, we all know that there are over 400,000 student-athletes and almost all will go pro in something other than sports. After attending this conference, there is no doubt that NCAA student-athletes are more than prepared for what is to come in our bright futures.

To those student-athletes who were in attendance at this conference, I want to say thank you for showing me what intercollegiate athletics is all about. You all came to this conference without an inkling as to what you were getting yourselves into, but left as a group who embraced challenges and seized the opportunity to acquire the skills and tools to go out and make a difference in the lives of others. That, in the end, is what the intended purpose of this conference was, and you certainly did not disappoint! And for that I thank and congratulate you.

Scott Krapf
Illinois State University Track and Field

Missouri Valley Conference

*If you were a participant at the 2009 National Student-Athlete Development Conference, we want to see pictures from your experience! Email your favorites to to see them on SAAC Speaks!

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Inaugural National SAAC Award of Excellence

On March 24th, the NCAA Division I Leadership Council approved the creation of the Division I National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) Award of Excellence. This award is intended to showcase campus SAACs that have made great contributions to their respective communities.

The mission of the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee is to enhance the total student-athlete experience by promoting opportunity, protecting student-athlete well being, and fostering a positive student-athlete image. Our hope was that this award would not only showcase the many positive accomplishments of SAACs all over the country, but also that it will spread awareness of the National SAAC and our position in the NCAA governance structure. The selection for the award was based on the following criteria:

a. Progress and growth of campus SAAC;
b. Community Service/Outreach;
c. Sportsmanship Initiatives;
d. Teamwork;
e. Originality; and
f. Leadership.

Selection could be based on any single category, or a combination of multiple categories. The selection committee is comprised entirely of NCAA Division I National SAAC members. When we opened the door for applications on the 20th of April, we were immediately overwhelmed with a tremendous response by SAACs all over the country. We knew that choosing a winner would be difficult, but we never could have imagined how complicated – and inspiring - the process would truly be. There are amazing things happening every day on all of our campuses, and it is our hope that every SAAC gets the recognition they deserve for their commitment to their institutions and communities.

In reading through the submissions, however, there were two schools that stood out among the rest. It is the honor and privilege of the NCAA Division I National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee to recognize the outstanding achievements of the SAACs at both North Dakota State University, and the University of Oregon.

North Dakota State University

The three defining pillars of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee at North Dakota State are Teamwork, Leadership, and Community Service/Outreach. When Fargo-Moorhead’s Red River started flooding in late March, the NDSU SAAC quickly stepped in to mobilize their teams in an effort to fight the flood threatening their community.

Over the five-day span, the student-athletes, cheer team, and student-athlete trainers spent over 7,200 hours sandbagging in and around the Fargo-Moorhead area – many working over 20 hours each. This number does not take into account the additional sandbagging done in anticipation of the second crest, or the sandbag removal efforts that are still taking place. The football student-athletes even traveled to Valley City State University to assist in their flood fight as well.

“This is a great way for us to give back to the community. The people of this area have done so much for us through the years,” said Lucas Moormann, a senior on the Men’s Basketball team. “As we saw down at the NCAA tournament, we have a ton of fans. This is one way to give back to them and help the community.”

The leadership shown by the North Dakota State University SAAC is a true testament to the very idea of community service. Both collectively and individually, all of the student-athletes – whether they were in state or out of state - articulated the need to give back to their “community.” The physical presence and emotional stability of NDSU team members was immeasurable as young and old were energized by the enthusiasm and encouragement provided by these young men and women to endure the ravages of the flood.

The accomplishment of the SAAC members, student-athletes, cheer team members and student-athletic trainers has not gone unnoticed, as several emails and notes of personal thanks were sent by homeowners who felt the efforts of these teams literally saved their homes. It is with a great amount of respect and humility that we, the NCAA Division I National SAAC, are proud to present the student-athletes of North Dakota State University with the National SAAC Award of Excellence. Your actions and demonstrated dedication to your community is simply outstanding. Congratulations.

The University of Oregon

On September 28, 2008 the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee at the University of Oregon launched a non-profit community organization program called Oregon Heroes. The goal of O Heroes was to create a single identity for all community service initiatives and to seek involvement from all student-athletes, staff, and faculty. O Heroes is focused in three areas which student-athletes feel they are able to excel in: health, education and service.

The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee decided to launch O Heroes as a department recognized non-profit organization. This allows O Heroes to collect donations on campus grounds including athletic facilities. O Heroes is also able to donate money raised to service projects such as the Duckling, which provides financial support to a local child battling an illness.

“The SAAC has a long history of giving back in our community. But now we are able to extend our reach even further,” explained Matt Jacobson, a golf student-athlete at Oregon. “This program is unique in that it is run primarily by student-athletes. Now, we can incorporate all the service that student-athletes do under one initiative.”

SAAC executive members serve as the Board of Directors for O Heroes. At meetings, the student-athletes decide what service projects align with the goals of O Heroes and then plan and coordinate those projects, with support and guidance given by the Student-Athlete Development Office within the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.

One of the highlights from the O Heroes initiative is called “Quackin’ Action”, a fun and educational event that provides over 300 local children the opportunity to meet and greet student-athletes as well as participate in a series of stations focused on health, education, nutrition, and fitness. The event is entirely organized and coordinated by SAAC.

Through O Heroes, Oregon’s student-athlete advisory committee has also taken initiative and formulated new relationships with campus groups including Greek Life. One example of this involves partnering with Delta Tau Delta, to participate in the Bleed Purple Volleyball Tournament, a philanthropic event to raise money for college students battling cancer.

Since the launching of O Heroes, community service has skyrocketed throughout the athletic department. The University of Oregon SAAC has demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment to the O Heroes program and continues to make huge strides to create, implement, and share new ideas.

Because of their originality and ingenuity, the SAAC at the University of Oregon has made a remarkable difference in their community, and student-athletes are being recognized as something more than just stars on the playing field – they have become heroes. The NCAA Division I National SAAC is truly inspired by the effort and leadership of student-athletes at the University of Oregon, and your actions epitomize the positive values SAAC’s everywhere. Congratulations on all of your accomplishments.

The NCAA Division I National SAAC is honored to present both the University of Oregon and North Dakota State University with the Spring 2009 National SAAC Award of Excellence. We are encouraged and inspired by your efforts, and your example now sets the standard for excellence in promoting growth, community Service, outreach, sportsmanship, teamwork, originality, and leadership. Congratulations again on your outstanding achievement.

One Division, One Voice; The NCAA Division I National SAAC.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Message From FARA

Over the past couple of years, the Faculty Athletics Representatives Association (FARA) and the National Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) have developed close ties. Last year in Minneapolis, along with Alan Hauser, FARA Past President, we attended the DI SAAC meeting in Minneapolis and came away very impressed with the workings of the group. As I mentioned to a number of my FAR colleagues, the passion and dedication that the members of the DI SAAC show in furthering the student-athlete experience is remarkable. In past years at the NCAA Convention, when SAAC members spoke in favor of or against specific pieces of legislation, people in the audience listen. In fact SAAC members have been some of the most eloquent speakers at these legislative sessions. In regards to panel participation at the most recent NCAA Convention in Washington, DC, Scott Krapf of Illinois State University represented the DI SAAC admirably with his presentation on our panel “Celebrating Student-Athletes on Campus.” At our last FARA Annual Meeting and Symposium in San Diego, several SAAC members participated on the FARA DI Legislative Review Committee (LRC) and also participated on a couple of panel sessions on exit interviews and communicating with campus constituencies. FARA will again invite DI SAAC members to participate on the LRC and on several panels. FARA will also request panel sessions at next year’s NCAA Convention in Atlanta that will have DI SAAC participation as a part of the panel session.
Past FARA President Alan Hauser and Kerry Kenny, past Chair DI SAAC, wrote short articles for our respective publications, FARA Voice and SAAC Speaks. This is an excellent means to further communicate with our respective organizations. During one of the sessions of the DI SAAC meetings in Washington, the group divided into sub-groups to discuss issues of concern for DI. I can provide some thoughts on a number of topics raised by the groups.
I believe a continued emphasis should be placed on bringing more FARs and DI SAAC members into the DI governance structure. Currently, nominations for various Cabinets, committees, etc. positions on these various bodies are done through the conferences. FARs need to work with their respective conferences to get nominated. There also needs to be a way of getting SAAC members on these groups. We would be willing to work with SAAC to help facilitate SAAC members becoming members on various groups within the governance structure. The student-athlete voice needs to be heard and this is an excellent way of doing so.
Academics continue to be an area where FARA and SAAC can cooperate together. Both of our groups stress the importance of developing effective academic support structures at universities. The proliferation of new academic support services buildings on campuses is only as good as the services that are provided to student-athletes. In other words, using millions of dollars to construct a new building is nothing if funds are lacking to provide needed academic support services to student-athletes.
An issue regarding student-athlete majors and the number of student-athlete in particular classes has been voiced at various universities. One concern is that student-athletes are directed towards specific majors to keep them eligible for competition. FARA strongly opposes this practice and encourages student-athletes to select majors that will further their career aspirations. The clustering of student-athletes in specific classes must also be monitored by universities. To some, this is something that should not be allowed. However, in these tough financial periods, many universities have reduced course offerings to the extent that there may only be one or two courses in a specific area. If this is the case, clustering may not be avoided.
The APR continues to be a hot topic for discussion. FARA believes that all student-athletes should be educated on all facets of the APR. However, a number of student-athletes have told FARs that they have not been given adequate education on the APR and the ramifications it has for individual sports and university athletics program. We would encourage student-athletes to go to their Athletic Directors and ask that APR education be provided to them.
The NCAA Task Force on Commercial Activities will soon issue its findings. Its charge was to “develop broad-based, consistent principles that will be translated into NCAA legislation affecting all sports and all commercial activity associated with athletics, with a special emphasis on the two issues that led to the formation of the task force: the use of student-athlete likeness, images and names, and the environment of postseason football in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. FARA members will be examining the Task Force report and will issue a position on its findings. We encourage the DI SAAC to do the same.
FARA is ready to work with the DI SAAC on issues of mutual concern. We are also working to develop close ties with the DII and DIII SAACs. Together, we can work to better provide for a better student-athlete campus experience – academics, athletics, and university community. We look forward to having SAAC members on our Legislative Review Committees and on being members of panels at our FARA Annual Meeting and Symposium and on FARA sponsored panels at NCAA Conventions.

Roger Caves
President, FARA
Professor of City Planning
San Diego State University

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Thinking Pink

As I watched the UNC/ Maryland women’s basketball game recently, I was reminded of my coach and all women’s coaches who fight cancer. Each team wore some form of pink: jersey (UNC) and shooting shirt (Maryland).

My coach died just a few years ago from cancer,and more recently we have learned of the death of Kay Yow, coach of NC State Women’s Basketball. There are so many women and people who suffer from this disease that awareness is more important now than ever. The WBCA formulated an initiative called “Think Pink”, now called “WBCA Pink Zone,” to create awareness and raise funds for cancer research . I, as a former women’s basketball player, am proud to have participated in this initiative.

According to the WBCA, in 2008 “over 1,200 teams and over $930,000 was raised for breast cancer awareness and research”( This is an issue that hits close to home for me but more importantly, this is an issue affecting so many of our oaches. I urge student-athletes to ask your administration, if you do not already do some form of cancer research and awareness fundraiser, to participate in “WBCA Pink Zone.” The more awareness and research we can create the better chance we have to finding a cure for this disease.

Kay Yow devoted a large part of her life to breast cancer awareness after being diagnosed in 1987. Kay Yow became an inspiration to all those around her even those who weren’t blessed to know her personally. Her continuous effort to fight her disease inspired people to always try their best at everything and not give up. She was a mentor, and al living example of how to fight to the end.

Please continue to be a part of a great cause. Think Pink!!!!

Shanay Freeman
Fairleigh Dickinson University
Northeast Conference

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

From the Seat of the Chair

Welcome to the online version of SAAC Speaks. For those of you who are new, this is the official blog/newsletter of the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). We are a group of 31 student-athletes, one from every multi-sport conference, who are dedicated to pursuing initiatives that will increase the well being of all DI student-athletes.

We have been producing a newsletter for quite some time now, but our hope is that this online version will be easier to read, easier to access, and easier to follow. It will also allow us the opportunity to have better dialogue with student-athletes all over the country. Some our posts will be strictly business, some will ask for help, and some will be off the cuff. Either way, we are happy you are here!

To catch you up on a few things, the 2008 NCAA Convention marked the end of an era for the Division I governance structure. For the first time since August 1997, the Division I legislative cycle operated without a Management Council. With the former Management Council being split into the Leadership Council and Legislative Council, the DI National SAAC had the opportunity to have twice the input in the divisional governance structure. Kerry Kenny, the outgoing chair of our committee, served as our representative on the Leadership Council while I participated in Legislative Council meetings. Heading into Convention, the members of our committee were unsure if our voices would be recognized like they were previously. As Convention progressed, however, we were amazed to realize the impact our voice garnered under the new governance structure. Not only were there were numerous opportunities where National SAAC members offered their insights on panels, but we also gave presentations to various constituents to ensure that our voice will continue to be heard in the new governance structure. In all, the NCAA Convention was a huge success for all Division I student-athletes. While it has been an intriguing journey to see where the National SAAC has come in the last five years, I cannot begin to describe how excited I am for the next year.

Over the next year, one of our main objectives as a National SAAC is to be proactive in our approach to legislation and hot-button issues. In the past, we have had no other option but to be reactive in our feedback and discussion on upcoming legislation. For the first time, the National SAAC will have the opportunity to work with conferences and institutions to have a voice in proposed legislation. While this does not mean that we have the authorization to pen legislation, it does means that legislative bodies have made efforts to solicit advice and feedback before they write their legislation. If we, as student-athletes have the opportunity to push legislation from its roots, there will be no question that it will have the best interest of student-athlete well-being in mind.

In an effort to recognize great achievements going on around the country, we have created a National SAAC Award of Excellence. We realize that there are SAACs across the nation making tremendous progress in different ways in their communities and on their campuses. With all that we do as student-athletes, it never ceases to amaze me when I read about all of the wonderful things that student-athletes are able to accomplish. The time has come for you to be recognized for your outstanding work as SAAC Award of Excellence. We realize that there are SAACs across the nation making tremendous progress in different ways in their communities and on their campuses. With all that we do as student-athletes, it never ceases to amaze me when I read about all of the wonderful things that student-athletes are able to accomplish. The time has come for you to be recognized for your outstanding work as SAAC groups. Please be sure to pass this information along to your respective campus SAACs. I will post again in a week or so with details about the award.

Finally, the National SAAC is going to continue to ensure that it is speaking out on behalf of all student-athletes. When we look back on our college experiences in 50 years, I am quite sure that it will be defined by not only what we did in the classroom and playing field, but also in the relationships that we built along the way. In building these relationships, it is so important that we are able to communicate quickly as a body of 160,000 student-athletes. This may seem like quite a daunting task, but through social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and Youtube, I believe that we can truly speak as one division and one voice. Our official Facebook group, One Division, One Voice, I am a NCAA Division I Student-Athlete is growing every day. If you have not already joined, I would encourage you to do so, and spread the word to your teammates. The representation of 160,000 student-athletes is much more powerful as a solitary voice.

From the seat of the chair, it is my honor to serve all of you. With 160,000 student-athletes, 342 schools, 31 conferences, we are: One Division, One Voice.

Matt Baysinger
University of Kansas
Chair, NCAA Division I SAAC