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A Voice for Wellness

By Taylor Ricci

Taylor Ricci, chair of the NCAA Student-Athlete Engagement Committee

College sports is one of the few societal agents where people from different backgrounds — people who look different, talk different and believe in different things — can come together to reach a common goal. A new NCAA student-athlete committee wants to combine the powerful platform of sport with the important voice of student-athletes.

The committee got its start in 2017, when the NCAA Board of Governors created a committee made up of student-athletes from all three divisions to facilitate dialogue surrounding issues, policies and execution of key initiatives. The Board of Governors Student-Athlete Engagement Committee is composed of nine student-athletes (one former and two current members of each division’s national Student-Athlete Advisory Committee), plus one president or chancellor from the Board of Governors and one individual from the Division I Council or the Division II or Division III Management Councils. The committee had its first in-person meeting in July.

We hope to make statements about issues affecting student-athletes and recognize excellence on campuses across the nation.

Moving forward, we intend to use social media campaigns to bring attention to campuses that are doing good work in key areas, such as sexual violence awareness and prevention. We believe these efforts will provide opportunities for student-athletes to be part of making college athletics a platform for promoting change.

Most recently, the committee took a position on an issue important to student-athletes throughout the country: mental health. Because the health and wellness of the whole student-athlete is a critical part of the higher education experience, the committee recommended that the Board of Governors make additional resources available to support this vital health initiative. The committee believes schools must commit more support and resources to this crucial part of overall student-athlete health and well-being, no matter the school’s budget level.

Taylor Ricci, chair of the NCAA Student-Athlete Engagement Committee, is a graduate of Oregon State, where she competed in gymnastics.

About Champion

Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.