The Student Athlete Advisory Committee is a student-led organization working to better the lives of student athletes and give members of the athletic community a voice.
This year USD SAAC added a sub-committee for social justice and awareness in response to recent events, Cole Streich, SAAC president said.
This sub-committee is in conjunction with the Cultural Wellness Coalition, also founded this year.
“We felt it was very important for student athletes to have that, and athletes of color to know that we are there for them, that we hear their voice, that their voice is important,” Streich said.
The social justice sub-committee started a new initiative this year called “Outside the Uniform.” This program, Streich said, spotlights an athlete and helps start the conversation that athletes should be looked at as more than just athletes.
Dakota Smith, an athlete and member of SAAC, was the first athlete featured as part of this initiative. Smith’s graphic shared how he is more than just a linebacker but also a podcaster and a business management major.
Lucie Anderson is a representative for swimming and diving in SAAC and has also joined the social justice committee this year.
“One of the main things we have talked about is the whole social equality treatment of everyone and seeing everyone the same. Making it more aware is a problem,” Anderson said.
An initiative in the works is the green bandana initiative to help spread awareness about mental health by tieing a green bandana to your bag, SAAC is planning for this to be on campus by spring.
“Just raising awareness for mental health, and being able to point someone to resources on hand if someone is in a mental health crisis,” Streich said.
In the past, SAAC meetings were held at the DakotaDome but this year they are held over Zoom once a month.
The meetings consist of updates from all of the team’s representatives and then from other committees. Then the committee works on initiatives and new ideas to help student-athletes.
“Just a bit of an update, asking everyone how they are doing, how their teams are doing and if anyone has any ideas,” Anderson said. “We also discuss news with the NCAA.”
There are 35 members of SAAC. Each team gets at most two representatives who are nominated by their team’s coaches.
Ella Kubas is a representative for triathlon in SAAC and has been a part of the committee for two years.
“It’s really important for the health of the athletic department to have student and athlete voices,” Kubas said. “Because the athletic department can do whatever they want. But being able to hear from us creates more unity as a whole for us through that.”
Each team’s representatives give updates on how their teams practices and over all members are doing. They also approve their teams practice hours.