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

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