by Rayne Gravat
Over Christmas break, the Southern Athletic Association held an NCAA compliance meeting to discuss common issues among student-athletes in our conference. Each school sent two student-athletes to Nashville, Tennessee, as representatives for their respective colleges. I was happy to attend as one of the Millsaps representatives. The group discussed topics such as regular season schedules, rules of play and goals for improving the conference.
A new policy was presented that would call for each school to send an academic team consisting of only athletes to compete in an academic challenge competition. It is not implemented yet, but it is considered a strong possibility in the near future to distinguish the SAA conference academically.
The conference would also like to start Sigma Sigma Alpha Honor Society for junior and senior student-athletes who have made the first all-conference team and have a GPA above a 3.7. (Although the GPA requirement is not set yet, as the conference wants to increase the exclusivity of the society.)
Another major part of this meeting was the discussion of NCAA legislation. The athletes in attendance voted on different legislations that were up for discussion in the NCAA. The athletes voted for the SAA conference’s position on the changes. Some of the major legislation consisted of allowing football to have a spring season that is more consistent with the other sports, and allowing recruits to participate in an on-campus evaluation. These topics were both agreed on in the meeting and will be voted on at the NCAA legislation meeting this year.
The final deliberation at the meeting was to write a new mission statement for the conference. The representatives wrote: “The mission of the Southern Athletic Association Student Athlete Advisory Council is to encourage the development and support of all student-athletes. The SAAC is responsible to ensure that the values of the conference are upheld, that the students of the SAA have a well-rounded experience, that NCAA rules are respected and followed, and that communication to the student-athletes that are represented by this council are clearly articulated at individual SAA institutions.” It was a privilege to attend this meeting and learn the inner workings of the conference.