Student Athletic Advisory Committee regulates NCAA decisions

“Student-athletes have a voice in the NCAA through advisory committees at the campus, conference and national level through the NCAA student-athlete advisory committees (SAACs),” according to the NCAA website.

Wilkes University, along with every other Division I, II or III colleges, has SAACs present on campus.

Currently, Wilkes’ committee has 50 student-athletes serving as representatives in SAAC. The faculty adviser is John Sumoski, who also serves as the Head Coach for the women’s soccer team. Sumoski has been the faculty advisor for the committee since 2002. He is followed by a full executive board, Sarah O’Hara, president; Maura Anistanski, vice president; Missy Oertner, secretary; and Caitlin Brown, media coordinator.

All of the student-athletes who serve on the committee are handpicked by the coaches of their respective team. Each coach selects three or four athletes to represent their team on the committee, this ensures that each team is equally represented and informed of decisions that are being made that will affect them.

Student-athletes who are chosen as representatives must maintain a cumulative GPA of a 2.75 or higher in order to continue to serve.

The SAACs committees on college campuses hold very high importance. The various functions of national SAACs include, generating a student-athlete voice within the NCAA structure, recommend potential NCAA legislation, and promote a positive student-athlete image.  The campus SAACs are intended for a little different purpose compared to on the national level, but there is some overlap. These functions include, organizing community service efforts, disseminate information and building a sense of community within the athletics program involving all athletic teams.

Anistranski discussed the importance of the committee on Wilkes’ campus.

“It’s crucial to have a SAAC committee on campus as a way to involve our student athletes in the Wilkes Community and the Wilkes-Barre community in ways other than just playing sports, such as community service events. Also, our SAAC committee members have a say in things such as MAC legislation that is being voted on each school year, so this is a way for us to represent the voices of Wilkes athletes in determining the rules that effect the sports we play.”

This year SAAC is “really pushing to bridge the gap between athletes and non-athletes on campus, put an emphasis on community service on our campus, and increasing the support of all of our sports teams,” O’Hara said.

The committee is very busy during the academic year, aside from the monthly meetings SAAC members are also in charge of Special Olympics Bowling and other Special Olympics events throughout the year, the Wilkes Charity Challenge in the Spring, Project Standing Room Only for the Wilkes vs. Kings basketball game in February, and a plethora of other fundraising and community service events throughout the school year.

Anistanski reiterated the plans that SAAC has in revamping their presence on campus,.

“This year, we are also trying to have a bigger presence on campus and do more for our student-athletes than we have in past years. We would love to become more involved with the Special Olympics chapter in our area and get all student-athletes, not just SAAC members, on board with that event. Also, we are trying to increase support for other athletic teams amongst ourselves and get our athletes to go out and support each other to build a more fun fan atmosphere for Wilkes Athletics.”

Each representative serves on a subcommittee for the duration of the school year in order to ensure all goals and plans are met and events are successful. These committees include student-athlete well-being, Special Olympics, Wilkes Community, Project Standing Room Only, Social Media, and the Wilkes Charity Challenge.

The SAAC committee is very involved, and important to obtain on Wilkes’ campus. These student-athletes obtain qualities that represent the hard-working athletes present on our campus.

If you are interested, talk to your head coach, or contact SAAC President, Sarah O’hara at [email protected]