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DI SAAC pushes consistency, sets priorities ahead of DI Strategic Summit

The Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee set its priorities under the new governance structure in advance of the Aug. 4-5 Division I Strategic Summit.

Given the meeting included 14 new national SAAC members, building a unified voice for Division I student-athletes was at the heart of the group’s discussion July 17-19 in Indianapolis.  The new Division I governance structure is designed to amplify the student-athlete voice; they are now involved at an unprecedented level in the decision-making process.

“Consistency is one of our top goals – it has to be,” said co-chair Kendall Spencer, a now-graduated former member of the University of New Mexico’s track and field team. “Decision-making at this level is difficult. … If we continue to have an open-line of communication and be efficient in our feedback, this system is built for success.”

Committee leaders – co-chairs Spencer and Dustin Page as well as vice chairs Rachel Scott and Robert Bramlett – articulated the importance of ensuring all 32 national SAAC members come to a consensus on the following priorities:

  • Time demands: National SAAC will consider if the 20-hour-per-week limit on athletics-related activities should be determined by sport and if travel hours should count toward the maximum hour allotment. The need and desire for additional time for career development and internships will remain a top priority for the committee. Further, members will emphasize time management education for coaches and administrators, and hope to develop a mandate that time logs be signed by all student-athletes.
  • Financial aid and cost of attendance: The committee will emphasize the need for financial literacy among student-athletes, particularly pertaining to budgeting and saving, taxes, efficient banking and credit cards.
  • Mental health: National SAAC supports the NCAA Sport Science Institute’s development of “best practices” for mental health and awareness. They wish to partner with SSI to help develop and distribute best practices on campuses nationwide. The committee believes student-athletes need to be better informed, not only to help them seek support when they need it, but to bolster their overall recognition, awareness and knowledge of mental health issues.  
  • Transfer issues: National SAAC will survey transfer students in an effort to better understand why they are transferring. SAAC will continue its participation in the review of graduate student-athlete transfer issues by the NCAA Division I Ad Hoc Transfer Issues Working Group.

“Our priorities fall in line with the priorities of the Division I Council and others,” Page said. “Our priorities are reflective of student-athletes and their needs. Yes, they are broad topics and will take time but we are ready to address them.”

The Strategic Summit will bring together a group of athletics administrators, faculty, students and conference commissioners to address the most pressing challenges facing college sports in the coming years. With an increasingly student-athlete-driven model, national SAAC representatives anticipate their opportunity to be heard. Spencer and Page, who will represent national SAAC at the summit, believe it’s their responsibility to ensure participants keep commitment to student-athletes a priority.  

Other business:

  • The committee offered a recommendation to the Strategic Planning and Vision Committee that the NCAA Division I Institutional Performance Program health and safety survey be mandatory for athletic trainers. 
  • National SAAC continues to grow its community engagement efforts via Team IMPACT to improve the quality of life for children facing severe illnesses and with the White House-led effort to combat sexual violence on college campuses nationwide through the “It’s On Us” campaign (the NCAA is a partner to the campaign).