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Division I SAAC weighs in on early recruiting rules

Group also discusses further empowering student-athletes to share their opinions

At its latest meeting, the Division I National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee discussed its strategic priorities for the upcoming year and provided feedback on Association-wide issues that impact student-athletes. The committee met July 12-14 in Indianapolis.

SAAC received an update on the early recruiting legislation that was adopted in April. The group offered differing opinions on the topic. Some committee members cited the benefit of uniformity in recruiting legislation across all sports, thinking it could minimize confusion in the recruiting process and would support multisport prospective student-athletes. Others felt that early recruiting legislation should be tailored to individual sports due to their unique characteristics, including athlete development and club competition schedules.

The committee provided feedback on early recruiting legislative concepts for baseball, swimming and diving, track and field and cross country. Committee members also gave feedback on how camps and verbal offers impact prospective student-athletes.

SAAC’s input will continue to inform future early recruiting legislation discussions.

Strategic priorities

SAAC reaffirmed its 2019-20 strategic priorities, established during its April strategic planning meeting. With an overarching focus on expanding the student-athlete voice, the committee’s three priorities include: considering the collegiate model in the 21st century, generating awareness and support for student-athlete health and welfare, and promoting diversity and inclusion initiatives in college sports.

SAAC chair and former Cornell gymnast Morgan Chall, who graduated this spring with a degree in global and public health sciences, noted the importance of the student-athlete voice in Association-wide issues.

“That’s one of the beautiful reasons that SAAC exists at the campus, conference and national levels,” Chall said. “For us to be effective at the national level, we need to have feedback from the conferences and the individual student-athletes. We need to use our voice and make it heard.”

The committee discussed how it can help student-athletes excel at their sport and in the classroom, while also emphasizing professional development for life after college athletics. Members discussed empowering student-athletes to address prominent societal issues, including mental health, sexual assault, stress management, racism and sexism. The committee emphasized the importance of generating awareness about these issues and providing resources to help student-athletes better address them on campus.

“The student-athlete voice is more important now more than ever, based on how today’s culture is,” said Ethan Good, SAAC vice chair and Bowling Green State University men’s basketball student-athlete. “With all the media surrounding us, it’s important to be able to represent yourself in an accurate manner. When we talk about all these controversial topics in college sports and the way society is moving in general, we as student-athletes are the ones who are experiencing it firsthand. Amongst all the clutter and the misinformation that may be shared or shown, the student-athlete voice can be something that offers some clarity.”

Transfer portal

SAAC also received an update on the NCAA transfer portal from national office staff. The committee stressed that continued communication and education efforts will be beneficial for student-athletes to bridge the knowledge gaps regarding the transfer process, noting frequent student-athlete misunderstandings about the transfer portal regarding scholarships and eligibility.  

Once student-athletes enter the transfer portal, their institutions are not required to hold their scholarship money for the following semester. Further, the committee recommended emphasizing that the Notification of Transfer is only communication, separate from the eligibility determination process that occurs after notification is given. SAAC also highlighted the importance of proactive communication between transferring student-athletes and their coaches.

After the Game

The committee received an update on the After the Game program. Launched in 2014, this Association-wide program supports student-athletes as they transition to life after college sports.

SAAC weighed in on a new, free career assessment tool for student-athletes that will allow student-athletes to assess their competitiveness in more than 300 career paths, as well as provide relevant professional development resources.

Chall noted the After the Game program mirrors the committee’s efforts to equip student-athletes for the working world.

“One of our primary priorities for the year is professional development for student-athletes,” she said. “We see partnering with After the Game as a great way to help each other achieve our goals.”

Division I SAAC will reconvene in October at the NCAA national office in Indianapolis.