JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. - We asked Carson-Newman swimmer, Academic All-American and South Atlantic Conference Student-Athlete Advisory Committee representative to write about her experiences in Indianapolis as the SAAC national meeting earlier this month. We'll let Mary take it from here.
A Weekend with National SAAC
Hey everyone, I have never written a blog post before, so thanks for reading! First, let me introduce myself. My name is Mary Northcutt, I am a rising senior Exercise Science student here at Carson-Newman where I am also on the swim team. At the beginning of my sophomore year, I got asked to join our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) on campus.
All the institutions that compete through the NCAA will have a SAAC on campus, and this allows for a direct line of communication from the NCAA to the student-athletes. In the fall of my sophomore year I became aware of an opportunity to apply to represent the South Atlantic Conference (SAC) on National SAAC. I applied on a whim and went to my first meeting in April of 2018 as the official representative of the SAC on National SAAC (yes, the acronyms do get confusing if you were wondering).
Fast forward a year, and I have now attended a handful of meetings, and I just got back from spending last weekend in Indianapolis at the NCAA Headquarters. Within National SAAC there is one representative from each conference in Division II along with two at-large members, putting us as a committee of 25. This year we set up our specific goals for what we want to accomplish, and we are calling it the "Total Package Student Athlete". I have attached an image which gives a little more insight into what National SAAC is working towards this year.
These are on-going goals and initiatives that we are working towards this year. Our primary goal for the meeting this weekend was to go over all of the proposed legislation for the upcoming NCAA Convention, and discuss the pros and cons of each new rule change. Essentially, this means that the NCAA wants to hear the student-athletes' voices on matters that can directly affect them.
We spent one day discussing these rule changes amongst National SAAC, and then the next day we meet up with Management Council and discussed the same legislation proposals with administrators from each conference. (A little shout out to Marty Gilbert, the South Atlantic Conference Management Council Representative, who manages to make legislation a little more fun!)
There are a lot of moving parts within the NCAA but knowing that they seek the feedback from student-athletes is incredibly reassuring. Being on National SAAC has truly shown me how a person is able to make their voice heard and can bring about positive change.
Though we spent a lot of time discussing legislation Friday and Saturday, I am really excited to share with you all what we got to do this past Sunday.
Division II has a partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and is the only of the three divisions to do so. National SAAC encourages the institution SAACs across Division II to fundraise for Make-A-Wish. On Sunday, we had the opportunity to grant a Wish at the National Office for a little girl. Many of us on National SAAC, including myself, had never seen a Wish Reveal happen, and this was actually the first one ever done at the NCAA home office. It was an incredible experience to see how we could actually impact someone's life through the work we have done. The following is a link to a video about the Wish reveal: https://youtu.be/hn89W5IEMhs.
After the Wish Reveal and lunch, it was time to pack up and fly home. As always, it is hard to leave such a passionate group of people. They have taught me invaluable lessons on how to use my voice, how to advocate for people, and how to make sure that at the end of the day you love what you do and have fun. This is essentially the halfway point of my National SAAC journey, and I am excited to see what lies ahead in the future.
The outside of the Hall of Champions, the building is shaped like the Championship trophies.
This is a picture of me and the little girl, Aubrie, who's Wish we were able to grant at lunch.
I always like to find the Carson-Newman and SAC logos on the wall at the home office while I am there.