It’s always a great experience when individuals on the ground have a forum to express ideas, concerns, thoughts and achievements in an organization. The NCAA has had a Student-Athlete Advisory Committee since 1989, and Division II athletics has had one specifically for its level since 1997. It’s an extremely important group of young men and women, who get a head-start to serve in a highly regarded leadership role during the collegiate career.
The Division II SAAC appointed a new chair earlier in 2021, who figures to accomplish a few more impressive feats given her history of service and selflessness. Missouri Western soccer player Mackenzie O’Neill has been heavily involved in improving the welfare of student athletes during her time in college, and has served as a highly qualified spokesperson for pervasive topics affecting a large number of players. She was a vice chair of the Division II SAAC in 2020, and has experience that will be invaluable.
Although O’Neill is honored to be in the position, she’s well aware that it’ll take a team effort to help achieve their goals.
“Change can come from me, but I think change is more powerful when it comes from the whole group,” O’Neill stated. “I don’t want to be the one speaking for all of SAAC, so how do we find ways to empower the committee?” Via NCAA.org
The Division II SAAC is comprised of 28 student athletes. Their mission statement is brief, but powerful, and encompasses ideals that are found in many companies around the world.
· Any process must be flexible and timely, and include effective communication
· Decisions must be fair, reasonable, and consider the potential impact on the student-athlete
Members of the SAAC have the ability to vote on issues on the Management Council reviews, and has a say at the Division II Business Session at the NCAA Convention.
Student athletes can serve a three year stint on the SAAC, which allows them to get significant exposure in an arena that will help them long after their playing days are over.