Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Recap of Conference SAAC Meeting

The Iowa Conference Student-Athlete Advisory Committee conducted its annual in-person meeting yesterday at Centennial Oaks Golf Club in Waverly. The group shared the many activities that either have taken place already this year as well as ones that are scheduled for later. Several schools have planned Special Olympics programs in keeping with the national NCAA SAAC emphasis on that worthy charity.

Each school was asked to come with an institutional vote on some of the more prominent legislation that will be considered this January at the NCAA Convention in Washington, D.C. Following is a summary of the voting:

* There is a proposal that would reduce by 10% in all sports except football the number of contests or dates of competition. The Iowa Conference SAAC opposes that proposal unanimously. Competition is of utmost importance to the student-athletes, and while they acknowledge some financial benefit, that benefit doesn't outweigh reduced competitive experiences.

* Another proposal would allow off-campus contact after a prospective student-athlete's (PSA) sophomore year. Currently, that contact may occur only after the junior year. The SAAC vote on that proposal was 3-5, opposed. The opposition cited more pressure on the PSA and that this important process shouldn't begin at an even earlier age from a maturity standpoint. Those in favor said developing relationships earlier would be beneficial.

* Legislation that would allow an on-campus evaluation (testing, observation, etc.) will be voted up or down. The evaluation has stipulations like arriving with the necessary NCAA medical documentation, a two-hour time limit, and only one evaluation per school / per student-athlete / per day. The conference SAAC is unanimously opposed to this legislation. Obtaining the documentation would be difficult as would scheduling the evaluations. Because many schools in the conference are close enough to each for multiple visits in a day, the group felt the one-day restriction puts more pressure on the PSA.

* Currently, a coach may not have contact with a PSA on each day of a consecutive-day event. The coach must wait until the very end of the event to have contact. Currently, If there is a day in between competitions, the coach is permitted to have contact at the end of that day. That creates some confusion, which makes passing this legislation easier on coaches. The conference SAAC unanimously supports this proposal.

* While PSAs are permitted to hold their own acceptance ceremony (without the presence of the college coach, administrator, etc.), there's never been an approved document for the PSA to actually sign. If passed in January, the "celebratory signing document" would have official, non-binding NCAA language for use at these ceremonies. The conference SAAC unanimously supports this proposal.

* The sport of football currently doesn't have a nontraditional season like other sports. The non-contact "Strength and Conditioning Period" in the spring allows only a football and blocking shields, and no other equipment. The membership will vote on establishing a full nontraditional season with full equipment, contact, etc. The conference SAAC favored this proposal by a 4-3-1 vote. Those in favor cited equity and the fact that equipment is necessary for a meaningful football practice. Also noted was the current permissiveness of 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills that inevitably involve contact. Among the arguments to oppose was the heightened concern about head injuries; this would create more contact and, possibly, more head injuries. Staff (namely athletic training) and facilities strain were two other opposition arguments.

The conference SAAC also reviewed and provided votes on Iowa Conference legislative proposals on the agenda for this Monday's meeting of the Management Council (Faculty Athletics Representatives and Athletic Administrators).

Action steps that came out of the meeting:

* A conference call after the NCAA Convention to review what happened with the legislation.
* Forward SAAC activities write-ups and photos to be posted on this blog.
* Emphasis on sportsmanship and diversity programming; the conference office would like to see the hashtag #IIACUnited when these programs are publicized (on Twitter or not, given the hashtag sign is well-known everywhere).
* Special emphasis on positive use of the social-media site "Yik-Yak," which allows for anonymous posting within a certain radius of a campus.

* An end-of-year conference call to review action steps and to preview the Iowa Conference spring legislative agenda.    

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