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”( http://www.wbca.org/pinkzone.asp). 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