This past weekend, State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) representatives from across the conference met in Liverpool, NY for their annual fall retreat.
SAAC is a group that every conference and member institution is mandated to have by NCAA legislation. The committees consist of student-athlete representatives nominated by their team. On the institutional level they are able to work with their advisor, usually someone in the athletic department, or a coach to provide insight and concerns on the student-athlete experience at their respective schools. In addition, on the conference level for the SUNYAC, the SAAC offers representatives from each school direct communication with the conference office giving them the ability to address any issues they might be facing on campus as student-athletes as well as getting to have an input on the rules, regulations and polices that affect student-athletes' lives on NCAA member institution campuses.
The SAAC is also the committee that is primarily responsible for maintaining and coordinating the division's nationwide partnership with Special Olympics, which was a major part of the retreat. On Sunday, SAAC representatives from the SUNYAC hosted a "Special Olympics Play Day" where the athletes and a group of Special Olympians met up at Ted Grant Field on the Le Moyne College campus. The event started out with some introductions and stretching before they ran some soccer drills such as passing and shooting as well as teaching the rules and playing some games of bocce ball. After speaking with those who participated, everyone had a great experience and many claimed it will be something they will never forget and are looking forward to doing again in the future.
Monday morning was the SUNYAC SAAC formal meeting that was meant to revise the conference's legislation regarding student-athletes. The SAAC members were able to voice their opinions and concerns on many different topics as well as vote on any changes or ideas that were proposed. It was great to hear all the input from the representatives and as a conference, SUNYAC prides itself in not only listening to its student-athletes, but also implementing changes and finding solutions to concerns brought forth by our SAAC members.
The SAAC then began to focus on the SUNYAC involvement and plan for their "Yards for Yeardley" campaign against domestic violence started by the One Love Foundation in honor of the unfortunate and avoidable murder of University of Virginia women's lacrosse player, Yeardley Love, by her boyfriend in 2010. For these student-athletes, this topic hits really close to home and they can see the perspective of Yeardley's situation. SUNYAC SAAC and the One Love Foundation have been working together to raise awareness for those in abusive relationships. They also provide others, who might have friends stuck in that kind of relationship, with tips to help them recognize signs of domestic abuse. This includes using appropriate avenues to address the situation. The goal of last year's SUNYAC campaign "10 Million Yards for Yeardley" was to walk or run a total of 10 million yards combined across all the SUNYAC campuses. This number was not only accomplished, but emphatically surpassed, with the schools combining to reach over 25 million yards. This year, the campaign will be known as the "Around the World for Yeardley," setting the goal of reaching a total of 50 million yards to double their total from last year and to spread even more awareness to help prevent domestic violence.
The SUNYAC SAAC plans to meet again prior to April.