Student-Athletes Lead Discussions at ASUN SAAC Summer Meetings
Saturday, July 28, 2018
By ASUN Conference
Student-Athletes Lead Discussions at ASUN SAAC Summer Meetings

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Thirty ASUN Conference student-athletes, administrators & league representatives attended the 2018 Summer Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) Meetings from July 22-24 on the campus of Lipscomb University. Led by the ASUN SAAC Officers, the group discussed a wide range of topics affecting student-athletes at the campus, conference and national level. The group broke from the meetings on Monday morning to volunteer and spend time with local refugee children in the Nashville community.

The three-day slate of meetings included special guest speakers R.A. Dickey and Dorian Edwards. A 15-year veteran of Major League Baseball & winner of the 2012 NL Cy Young Award, Dickey spoke with the group on Monday about mental health and his battles throughout his life and professional career. Edwards, the Campus Coordinator for Project Life Movement, joined the discussion on day two to inform the group of past year of partnering with his organization.

For the 2017-18 academic year, ASUN student-athletes helped register 391 individuals for the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry through the Project Life Movement. Among the six NCAA conferences partnered with Project Life, the ASUN finished only behind the ACC for the total number of registered donors over the past year. Edwards provided guidance and answered questions on how each campus SAAC can improve in year two with the organization as the conference continues with the partnership into 2018-19.

'Being able to work with such a talented, determined, and fun group of student-athletes has meant so much to the development of the student-athlete experience," stated ASUN SAAC Chair & NCAA Division I Representative, Amanda Carroll. "ASUN SAAC is filled with like-minded student-athletes and caring administrators that want to make Division I athletics and the ASUN conference the best it can be. I feel so honored to be able to represent our conference and these student athletes on the national level because each conference has concerns that are unique, but also similar. It is so humbling being able to listen to each school's representatives and know that they are putting their trust into the ASUN & Division I SAAC because they understand how important our voices are. SAAC meetings always prove to me and to us, how much of an impact we can have on all student-athletes across the conference."

Throughout the three days, ASUN SAAC Chair and NCAA Division I SAAC Representative Amanda Carroll (FGCU) guided the group in discussions on developments within the NCAA Transfer Working Group, Early Recruiting, Mental Health, SAAC Diversity and Inclusion, Integration with Campus Organizations, Community Service and Professional Development. ASUN SAAC Vice Chair & Secretary, Ahmed Amaar (Lipscomb) and Jaci Hodskins (Jacksonville) chaired the discussions on conference-wide community service efforts for the year. ASUN SAAC Social Media Coordinator Rachel Noble (Stetson) shared with the group her plans for promotions of the conference this year, which included the creation of an Instagram account: @ASUNSAAC

On the final day, ASUN SAAC voted and approved two adjustments to its Best Practices. The first change puts an emphasis on the attendance of both a male and female representative from each campus at meetings, while the second tweaks the guidelines for NCAA Division I SAAC Representation to allow the ASUN representative to serve for an additional year after their eligibility is exhausted as long as they are still enrolled in an NCAA Division I institution.

2018 ASUN SAAC Summer Meeting Attendees

  • FGCU - Amanda Carroll (Volleyball & Beach Volleyball), Riley Randolph (Softball) & Kathy Peterson (Administrator)
  • Jacksonville - Jaci Hodskins (Softball), Katie Krawczyk (Beach Volleyball), Dr. Kim Capriotti (Administrators)
  • Kennesaw State - Marissa Gore (Women's Lacrosse), Maddie Jones (Volleyball), Lexi Mann (Women's Basketball) & Mindy Mager-DeBruce (Administrator)
  • Liberty - Rion Davis (Football), Delaney McDowell (Cross Country & Track/Field) & Ethan Chase (Administrator)
  • Lipscomb - Ahmed Amaar (Men's Track & Field), Lauryn Davidson (Women's Golf) & Dr. Lin Garner (Administrator)
  • NJIT - Liz Benson (Volleyball), Shannon Turner (Track & Field) & Brittany Allard (Administrator)
  • North Alabama - Emma Ellis (Volleyball & Beach Volleyball), Justin Watson (Cross Country) & Peggy Wingo (Administrator)
  • North Florida - Taryn Griffey (Volleyball & Beach Volleyball) & Kendra Grant (Administrator)
  • Stetson - Arye Beck (Cross Country), Rachel Noble (Beach Volleyball) & Elise Paulson (Administrator)
  • ASUN - Patrick McCoy & Porscha Tidwell (Administrators)
  • Guest Speakers - R.A. Dickey (Former MLB Pitcher) & Dorian Edwards (Project Life Movement)

Additional Quotes
- Ahmed Amaar, Lipscomb - ASUN SAAC Vice Chair: "Hosting the 2018 ASUN SAAC Summer Meeting was an incredible experience. With this being the first Summer meeting in history, it was fantastic to have more time to discuss issues that pertained to the ASUN as well as break into small groups. We had some very insightful discussions and I took away more than I ever have before.

I was really happy with the way our service project went as well, partnering with our Director of Spiritual Formation - Chris Klotz - we were able to visit a refugee apartment complex to pick up trash, paint doors and play tons of games with the kids. It was great to make bonds with these children so fast and it was truly a heartwarming experience. 
 
It seems that with every coming year the ASUN grows bigger and bigger and I am glad that I am here to witness it. Being able to use my voice as a student-athlete has been nothing short of a blessing and I am extremely thankful to the ASUN for this opportunity to host and be a member of ASUN SAAC. I have made unforgettable memories and lifetime friends through the ASUN and I am excited for what the future holds!"
 
Jaci Hodskins, Jacksonville - ASUN SAAC Secretary: "The student-athletes of the ASUN bring so much energy and insight to every meeting. Our in-person meetings are always interesting because of the connections we get to make with all the other institutions. I love getting to hear how everyone else runs their programs and attacks each initiative on their campuses. It's refreshing to hear that other schools have the same issues and these meetings are a great way for us to work together to find solutions.
 
This weekend, we got to welcome Liberty and North Alabama to the conference. They brought a lot of great ideas and new perspectives. I think it's safe to say ASUN pride is at an all-time high as we continue to grow and make an impact as a conference."

The purpose of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee is to enhance the total student-athlete experience by promoting opportunity, protecting student-athlete welfare and fostering a positive student-athlete image. To this end, through the orderly establishment and enforcement of legislation, the committee aims to encourage sound academic practices for student-athletes, serve as the liaison between the campus SAAC and the National SAAC, stimulate good sportsmanship, provide leadership and a voice in the development of public attitudes toward intercollegiate athletics generally, address the future needs of Conference athletics in a spirit of cooperation and mutual benefit of the member institutions, encourage cooperation amongst student-athletes toward the support of gender equity, provide health, safety and wellness information to student-athletes, and provide personal and professional development opportunities.