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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Becoming One

The Following post is written by Temple's  Women's Cross Country student-athlete Jenni Abercrumbie, describing her experience sitting in on the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee meeting and the important role the committee plays in the NCAA governance structure.

Photo Gallery of 2012 Atlantic 10 In-Person SAAC Meeting in Indianapolis

Jennifer Abercrumbie (front row, left) with the Atlantic 10
Conference SAAC at the 2012 In-Person Meeting in Indianapolis
Thirty-one. Thirty-one individuals. Thirty-one conferences. Thirty-one different sets of ideas. Thirty-one different people, but not just any people, thirty-one student-athletes.  Each from varying sports, each from different conferences, each from different walks of life, but all coming together to achieve one goal. The NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee is comprised of thirty-one individuals who come together to make one voice. Individuals who share one unique identity representing the thousands of Division 1 athletes this nation enjoys watching compete in the array of Division I sports. Thirty-one voices, thirty-one conferences, thousands of differing ideas become one.  If someone asked me to define the Division I SAAC, that is how I would describe it: 31 becoming one. 

As a student-athlete who is a member of an institution’s SAAC, I know how hard it is for one institution to have one united voice, and then for that one voice to join the others in its conference to become an even bigger one. The Division I SAAC takes all the conference voices and then makes them an even bigger big one. The NCAA may be a household name, but the Student-Athlete Advisory Committees that represent the NCAA’s student-athletes have yet to be recognized as household names. Many people could tell you what they think the NCAA really is, but more often than not, no one knows what a SAAC is – including the student-athletes whose voice is represented by these select few individuals who are their peers. 

Sitting in on a meeting of the elite 31 is truly an honor. By this occurrence, this 31 grows stronger with the ability of having other student athletes to consult, so that they may present an even stronger, more united front to all the committees and councils who comprise and enforce the laws deemed necessary by all of the member institutions of the NCAA. By interacting with these 31 individuals, I have a chance to reinforce something important to the student-athletes of my institution or conference that may have been lost amongst the cloud of other ideas presented.  Interacting with the people who are your last line of hope or defense in the face of the rule makers and rule enforcers is truly an honor.  For me, being a member of an institution and conference SAAC is all about making the present and future better for student-athletes, not just athletically but academically as well. Sitting in on a DI SAAC meeting, it was comforting to know that I am not the only one who cares about student-athletes in that way. Despite having an outside perspective, differing from the norm group of 31, I felt right at home in a room of individuals who, to the best of their ability, just want to make the industry of collegiate athletics better for all those involved. 

Someday soon, we will all go off our separate ways, with many of us not continuing down the path of athletics in any way, shape, or form, but one thing that is for certain is that we will always remember the times that we were a part of the changes that made  the industry what it has become. By being student- athletes, we all have a voice, by being DI athletes, we become one.  One body.  One voice.  Division I.