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DI Council approves civic engagement legislation that includes Election Day

Practicing, competing and other countable athletically related activities prohibited on first Tuesday after Nov. 1 every year.

Division I student-athletes will not practice and compete, among other countable athletically related activities, on the first Tuesday after Nov. 1 every year, including the upcoming Election Day on Nov. 3. The Division I Council approved the change at its meeting Wednesday.

The Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee proposed the legislation to provide a day each year dedicated to increasing opportunities for Division I athletes to participate in civic engagement. These include activities such as voting or community service, among others.

It marked the first legislative proposal Division I SAAC has proposed since Division I governance was restructured in 2014 to give student-athletes a vote at every level of decision-making. Two Division I SAAC members, Caroline Lee and Justice Littrell, are voting members on the Council.

“The Council unanimously supports this important piece of legislation. Coming from Division I SAAC, we know it represents the voice of student-athletes across the country who continue to express a desire to increase their civic engagement at local, state and federal levels,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania. “We look forward to seeing student-athletes use this opportunity as a way to create positive change.”

Division I SAAC, comprising representatives from each of the 32 Division I conferences, emphasized that it is more important than ever to protect and promote the rights student-athletes have as citizens. Additionally, the committee expressed its strong commitment to provide NCAA schools with educational tools that may be used this year and beyond.

Before proposing the legislation, Division I SAAC received feedback on it from the Division I Legislative Committee, Student-Athlete Experience Committee, and the Men’s and Women’s Basketball Oversight Committees.

The legislation mirrors one of Division I SAAC’s priorities for the 2020-21 academic year: increasing diversity and inclusion education through civic engagement. The other two priorities are enhancing the student-athlete voice in legislative and policy issues and promoting student-athlete physical and mental health and well-being.

“As Division I SAAC representatives and as student-athletes across the country, we are so excited to see this proposal become legislation,” said Ethan Good, Division I SAAC chair and former men’s basketball player at Bowling Green. “By providing this day dedicated to civic engagement each year, we are making a clear distinction that our American student-athletes will always be citizens before they are athletes. The student-athlete voice continues to grow louder and louder every year, and we can see that through this action. I am excited to see what will come of this in the current year and for years to come. The action of student-athletes on this day will be important, but the fact that we created this change through SAAC is an important reminder of how student-athletes can make a change.”