SAAC: the voice of athletics

In the chaotic world of a student- athlete, there is an assembly of other college athletes striving to keep everything in sync.

This is the Student Athlete Advisory Committee.

The committee, made up of student-athletes and designed to provide insight on the student-athlete experience throughout the nation, is comprised of men and women from every school in every division of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. It is required by NCAA legislation.

According to the SAAC handbook, the committee was formed to offer student-athlete input on NCAA activities and proposed legislation that affects student-athlete well-being.

The Butler SAAC’s main job is to represent Butler student-athletes in the NCAA governmental structure.

“They’re really the voice of athletics from the student-athlete side,” said Sonya Hopkins, coordinator of academic support at Butler. “They bring forth issues that pertain to them both as students and as athletes to be shared and discussed with administration, because sometimes we really don’t know what they’re dealing with.”

Comprised of students seen as leaders on their respective teams, members are entrusted with being able to communicate with higher-ups, not only on the conference-level, but the national level as well.

“They’re charged with providing feedback to conference officials, particularly with regards to NCAA rules,” Hopkins said. “They talk a lot about national litigation, issues that seem to be consistent across the board with regards to what athletes deal with.

“But they’re also involved with organizing community service activities, as teams, groups and individuals.”

Current Butler SAAC president Jared Isenthal, a senior on the men’s soccer team, oversees the four major subcommittees on campus.

The SAAC awards committee works with student-athletes to nominate and showcase their teammates. The operations committee focuses on outreach and opportunities on campus.

The marketing committee spreads word of events being held and obtains information and statistics on how to better serve student-athletes.

The community service and outreach committee is dedicated to giving back to the community through events like a holiday toy drive and other volunteer work.

“We’ve really been put in a position to promote ourselves on-campus,” said Isenthal, who calls Butler’s SAAC the voice of student -athletes and said it’s an honor to be on the committee.

“We advocate more availability for student-athletes. The whole student-athlete body is important to me,” Isenthal said.

In addition to the litigation and community outreach the SAAC does, there are also smaller, though no less important, contributions that are consistently made.

Most recently, teams were granted 24-hour access to Hinkle Fieldhouse with a swipe of their university ID cards.

Junior men’s basketball player Erik Fromm, who is now chair of the operations committee, said one of the  SAAC’s next goals is to get parking passes for senior athletes living off campus.

“We just try to figure out how to make our experience the best possible,” Fromm said. “We serve as a voice for student-athletes. We have events, like the student athlete social and the SAAC awards, which gets more people involved.

“But we’re not really striving for recognition—we just want to look out for the other athletes.”

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