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Division III SAAC sets goals for coming year

Committee to focus on student-athlete mental health, other initiatives

The Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee has set its course for the next year. In its April meeting in Indianapolis, the group decided it would dedicate itself to assisting in the ongoing efforts to improve the environment at Division III athletics contests, educating fellow student-athletes on mental health issues and working to give more of their peers an opportunity to attend the NCAA Convention.

Division III SAAC created a working group to address issues related to poor behavior at Division III athletic events. Membership surveys and straw polls have repeatedly indicated that fans – particularly parents – cause more problems than any other group. SAAC hopes to find a way to help schools and student-athletes communicate directly with parents in order to set expectations for decorum and behavior. SAAC’s working group will work in conjunction with the Division III Sportsmanship and Game Environment Working Group, which is tasked with addressing similar issues.

Another of the committee’s goals for the year is to devote time and energy to student-athlete mental health. SAAC formed a working group that the committee hopes will take measures to help fellow student-athletes realize what campus mental health resources are available to them. It also will focus on finding a way to train Division III athletes to recognize signs and symptoms of potential problems among their teammates and steer them to the appropriate resources. The committee will meet with representatives from the NCAA Sport Science Institute to discuss this issue in more detail in the summer.

The committee also made a recommendation to expand the Division III student-athlete presence at the NCAA Convention. The group has asked that the handful of new national SAAC members who are slated to begin their terms after Convention attend that event before they have any formal committee duties. SAAC noted it would help the new committee members get up to speed on key issues so that they could make an immediate impact when their committee service begins. The recommendation will be passed to the Division III Strategic Planning and Finance Committee.

“We are making this suggestion to provide these future committee members with the valuable experience of learning the roles and responsibilities national SAAC has prior to their term, and to give them the opportunity to be mentored by the committee member they are replacing,” said Rob Wingert, committee chair and member of the Stevenson University men’s volleyball team. “This is extremely beneficial for not only the student-athletes, but also the members of Division III, as well, because it helps the true voice of student-athletes continue to be heard."