FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Universities around the country are striving to meet the changing needs of student-athletes and the Arkansas Razorbacks’ Office of Student-Athlete Success (OSAS) has taken innovative approaches to current events by creating programming that directly addresses hot topics and the changing landscape of college athletics.
This article is the fourth in a five part series titled The Changing Landscape of College Athletics: Meeting the Needs of our Razorbacks that will highlight those efforts and the unique learning opportunities. The articles will focus on the education and instruction that will benefit the next generation of young professionals on the following subjects:
- June 12: Financial literacy
- June 22: Career education and job attainment
- July 16: Working with the Millennials and Generation Y
- Aug. 5: The role of our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC)
- Social spotting to help address risky behaviors
The Razorback Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) is comprised of leaders from each athletic team who represent their fellow student-athletes and act as liaisons to the University of Arkansas, the Athletic Department, the SEC and the NCAA.
This group has a range of functions. One of the main roles of SAAC members is to facilitate effective communication between Department of Athletics staff and student-athletes. Members of SAAC are responsible for relaying messages, announcements and initiatives to their coaches and teammates.
Often SAAC is used as a vehicle to gain insight on our student-athletes’ perspective on proposed SEC and NCAA legislation or student-athletes’ concerns and needs. The Razorbacks’ SAAC is one of the more efficient and organized student-athlete groups in the country. They formally elect officers and chairs of various committees. The 2015-16 officers and committee chairs are listed below:
President: Flavia Araujo – Women’s Tennis
Vice President (Hogspy Chair): Logan Bishop – Women’s Track
Secretary & Treasurer : Eric Janise – Men’s Track
Marketing Chair: Summar Roachell – Women’s Golf
Events Chair: Nina Drolc – Swimming
Service Learning Chair: Branch Terrell – Men’s Tennis
Campus Connections Chair: Makenzie Craft – Women’s Tennis
APPLE Conference Chair: Heather Elswick – Women’s Gymnastics
One of the signature events coordinated by SAAC is the Hogspy Awards. This event is conducted annually at the end of each spring semester and features individual and team awards in the areas of athletics, academics, leadership and service. The Hogspy Awards honors excellence in Razorbacks Athletics including performances by 19 sports teams and more than 460 student athletes.
Last year, the award show was hosted by Dari Nowkhah of ESPN and Golf Channel’s Lisa Cornwell. The event also featured a live musical performance from Razorbacks student-athletes Cordale Boyd and Teni Butler. The Hogspy Awards has gained popularity for incorporating entertaining spoof videos and athletic highlights. Additionally, SAAC members serve as award presenters during the show and the Hogspy committee writes the script for the award presenters.
In addition to the Hogspy Awards, SAAC is actively involved in service initiatives and projects designed to promote relationship building with other student groups on campus. Annually, SAAC hosts youth from needy families in December for holiday shopping at Toys R Us. They help secure student-athlete volunteers for other departmental service learning initiatives including the Book Hogs and Sweat Hogs programs.
The Department of Athletics is committed to growing our student-athletes as leaders. SAAC is a way for student-athletes to actively engage in shaping their experience. Just as important is the opportunity to develop transferable skills that will help our student-athletes be successful for their lives after college.
What Razorbacks Student-Athletes Say About SAAC
Joey Bailey (Women’s Basketball)
- SAAC holds a special place in my heart. Being a SAAC representative has opened so many doors for me. I have confidence to lead because of the opportunities SAAC has provided. I grew and developed in every aspect of my life while in SAAC. Being a SAAC rep is truly an honor and a great responsibility for your own personal development, your team, and the University of Arkansas.
- Arkansas SAAC has made it a priority to connect and reach out not only to athletes and the athletic department, but our university as a whole. I have met many people around campus and have had the chance to learn from them and incorporate our values and missions with other organizations around campus as well.
Flavia Araujo (Women’s Tennis)
- For me, SAAC means opportunity. There are so many great, impactful things that we can do as leader student-athletes, and being part of SAAC gives us the voice and the chance to make those happen. We feel empowered and able set challenging goals that can result in some memorable moments.
- SAAC is all about connecting the student-athletes and our ideas to other people around campus and the community. We are able to do a lot of good things by ourselves, but the great things happen when we work with other groups, RSOs, and institutions. I have met many impressive people these past 3 years while working in joint events, and some of them are not only great contacts in my network, but special friends for life.
Logan Bishop (Women’s Track)
- Being in SAAC helps me personally because it has pushed me out of my comfort zone as a leader. Professionally, it has taught me how to be more organized and focused on getting things done; SAAC has also given me more professional experience that I need to better myself as a student-athlete leader and in a professional career that I seek in the medical field.
- What I love most about SAAC is that even though we are a group of about 40 members on a campus of 25,000+ we have the ability to reach out to almost every single student on this campus. I love striving to bring the general student body and student-athlete body together, because in reality we are all the same and together we can make our campus a better place to learn and grow.”
Meredith Hayes (Women’s Volleyball)
- SAAC forced me to grow as a leader, in a more real-world way. I was in charge of a committee that only included one of my teammates, and there were male members. Ideas tended to be even more varied than what I was used to on my team. I was required to stay in touch with professionals, namely counselors, organizations, and businesses like Walmart. I had to hold people accountable and go directly to them, and make sure I was doing my job as well. All of these things stretched me, and they pertain very much to the professional world.
- SAAC enabled us to get involved with Razorback Collegiate Foundation and Greek life, as well as other students on campus. Every year, SAAC comes up with more ways to make itself more accessible and connected to campus.
For more information on Arkansas Athletics, follow @ArkRazorbacks and @HogLife_Scholar on Twitter.