In an effort to promote, protect and foster the student athletes of Oklahoma Christian University, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) released their executive board members for the 2016-2017 school year on Sept. 30.
Senior soccer player Amanda Cooper earned the president position, with senior cross country and track and field runner Maci Rich as vice-president, junior soccer player Chelsea Key as secretary and senior baseball player Garett Hill as treasurer.
“The purpose of the SAAC is to enhance the student-athlete voice and experience, encourage school support across all sports on campus, cultivate and participate in community service engagements and connect the dash between ‘student’ and ‘athlete,’” Cooper said.
Currently, there are 24 members in the SAAC organization, with two athlete representatives per Oklahoma Christian sports team.
“I believe it is extremely important to have the SAAC because it gives a structured environment for the student-athlete voice to be heard and discussed,” SAAC Liaison and Assistant AD for Student Athlete Well-Being Teresa DeBoard said. “It can be easy to get caught up in your own sports team and forget how powerful the student-athlete voice can be when it comes together as a whole. The SAAC gives an opportunity for representatives from each sport to come together and discuss not only what is best for our Conference in the NCAA, but what is best for our student-athletes here on OC’s campus.”
Oklahoma Christian’s branch of the SAAC started when the university began its transition into Division II. According to DeBoard, establishing the committee is a NCAA requirement.
“This group is completely student-run and student-led,” DeBoard said. “I hope to see, and already have, the group pulling together to makes things happen that will benefit the group of student-athletes as a whole. Discussing ways that the student athletes can give back to the community around us and to the OC campus community are just a few of the discussions we have at our meetings.”
Cooper said she wants the SAAC to cultivate an environment that brings all students together, whether or not they play a sport at Oklahoma Christian.
“I would love to bring more awareness to our campus about who the SAAC is and what we do,” Cooper said. “One of our main goals is to hold an athletic banquet at the end of the year, celebrating all our athletes, coaches and athletic trainers, along with their various athletic and academic success throughout the year. It is something our athletic department did for a long time and then it went away for a few years. I would love to bring it back and keep it there.”
To raise money for such a banquet, the SAAC sold quarter zip pullovers and dry-fit shirts during the month of September and plans to host a Make-A-Wish night at one of the men and women’s basketball games this season.
As the SAAC looks for more fundraising opportunities and works to raise student awareness, Hill said, as treasurer, he hopes the organization will allow the students on Oklahoma Christian’s campus a channel of communication that is heard not only by the athletic department, but by the Heartland Conference and the NCAA.
“The SAAC benefits the student-athlete on campus by being an organization that understands the day-to-day life of a college athlete, while doing its best to stay informed about NCAA rules and regulations, and being a liaison with the athletic department,” Hill said. “The representatives of the SAAC have a unique opportunity to hear both sides of issues and have a voice for the athletes.”