The national Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee has set its goals for the coming year. An inaugural divisionwide SAAC regional convention, student-athlete mental health and CPR/AED certification are among the eight core areas on which the committee members will focus their efforts.
The student-athletes established the goals at their April meeting in Indianapolis and formed task forces dedicated to each initiative.
One of the committee’s top priorities for the year is hosting the first Division II SAAC Super Region Convention, which is intended to increase student-athlete participation in the Division II governance structure and foster communication among SAACs at the campus, conference and national levels.
“The national SAAC meets four times a year, and we do a lot,” said chair Jasmyn Lindsay, a former softball player at Queens (North Carolina). “That work doesn’t always trickle down into 309 DII institutions as best as we would like it to. We want what we do here to get to everybody.”
Division II leaders allocated $1 million of the division’s Foundation for the Future funding to support the new programming through 2021. The convention will become an annual event over the next four years, held in different regions of the country and serving a select number of Division II conferences each time. The inaugural event is set for Nov. 17-19 in conjunction with the NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C. Student-athlete representatives from schools in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association and Central Atlantic Collegiate, East Coast, Mountain East, Northeast-10 and Pennsylvania State Athletic conferences will be invited to attend.
SAAC also will focus on the following goals this year:
- Promoting education on mental health. Division II SAAC aims to lead by example in the area of mental health awareness, setting the goal of having every committee member complete the educational modules on student-athlete mental health developed by the NCAA Sport Science Institute. The national body will encourage conference SAACs to do the same and hopes to have at least half of those committees complete the modules this year. The national SAAC also plans to incorporate mental health facts in its quarterly newsletter that is sent to Division II SAAC advisors and presidents.
- Promoting CPR and AED certification. In the fall of 2016, the committee formed a partnership with the Sport Science Institute to promote CPR and automated external defibrillator training among college athletes. Members of the national SAAC became certified in the lifesaving techniques during their November meeting, and in January, the group sponsored trainings for NCAA Convention attendees. Next, their goal is for at least half of Division II conference SAACs to complete training in the coming year.
- Increasing use of Helper Helper, a community engagement app. Division II has dedicated a portion of its Foundation for the Future funding to assist member schools in adopting Helper Helper, an app that connects student-athletes to community engagement opportunities and helps them and their schools track their hours. SAAC is looking to spread awareness of this tool and encourage schools to integrate it into their athletics programs.
- Developing a Division II SAAC alumni network. The committee seeks to use an online platform to help keep former national SAAC members connected.
- Supporting the It’s On Us campaign to combat sexual assault. The committee will continue its involvement with the It’s On Us campaign, which launched in fall 2014 to end sexual assault on college campuses. SAACs across all three NCAA divisions recently created videos to promote the campaign and participated in the Student-Athlete Day of Action on April 17.
- Continuing conversations about social justice. Last fall, the committee participated in an in-depth discussion about social justice issues that was led by two facilitators from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. The event set the foundation for continued efforts by SAAC to foster positive conversations around social justice issues and encourage inclusive environments on campuses.
- Enhancing partnerships with Team IMPACT and Make-A-Wish. SAAC looks to continue its partnerships with Team IMPACT and Make-A-Wish, which have become engrained in Division II community engagement efforts across the country. Both organizations benefit children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses.
NCAA Board of Governors Student-Athlete Engagement Committee representatives
Also at the meeting, SAAC elected three representatives to serve on the new Association-wide committee for student-athletes. Bailey Koch, a volleyball player at Augustana (South Dakota), Jessica Koch, a former soccer player at Cal State San Bernardino, and Josh Shapiro, a baseball player at Colorado Mesa, will represent Division II on the NCAA Board of Governors Student-Athlete Engagement Committee. They will be joined by three SAAC representatives from Division I and three from Division III, one Board of Governors member, and one member of the Division I Council or the Division II or Division III Management Council.