June 14, 2009
LOGAN, Utah - Utah State is hosting the annual Western Athletic Conference Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) meetings this weekend, where student-athlete representatives from each of the nine conference schools meet to discuss their issues as student-athletes.
The committee meets twice annually, once in the winter, which is usually hosted by the conference office in Denver, and once in the early summer. This is Utah State's turn in the rotation to host.
"The purpose of this group is to provide input on issues, that we as administrators decide and judicate, but don't always get the student-athlete's perspective on," said Anthony Archibald, WAC Assistant Commissioner and the WAC's SAAC Advisor.
"These student-athletes are the voice that give us that perspective," Archibald said. "I act as the liaison between them to present their issues to the conference athletic directors, senior women administrators, faculty representatives and university presidents, who make up our governing structure within the WAC. They make the decisions on travel, scheduling, per diem, and those type of issues that impact student-athletes."
The group gathered in Logan Thursday evening, before performing community service Friday morning, where they helped clean and maintain the Logan City Cemetery.
"We want to be involved with the community," said Gwacham, who is the USU SAAC president. "Plus it's a great bonding experience for us as a group."
Friday afternoon was spent filming the WAC Sportsmanship public service announcement. Saturday was set aside for the meetings, gathering for three hours in the morning and as many as five hours in the afternoon.
"These meetings are important to us because everything we do is about the student-athletes. If you don't get the student-athlete's point of view, then why bother. I think this is very, very important because we need to get the student-athlete's opinion on what the administrators are doing, should be doing or want to be doing," Gwacham said.
Kaneshiro echoed Gwacham's thoughts on importance of these meetings.
"I think that there's a bit of a barrier between the administrators points and the student-athletes' points," Kaneshiro said. "Not only are we not in the same environments but we're completely different generations. We have different like and dislikes, so we need to bring our issues and thoughts to the tables. If they're not heard, then the administrators who are making these decisions don't know how they'll affect us as student-athletes."
Each institution has its own SAAC group, with USU's being directed by Amy Crosbie, the assistant director of USU Athletics Student-Athlete Services. The mission of SAAC is to enhance the total student-athlete experience by promoting opportunity, protecting student-athlete welfare, and fostering a positive student-athlete image.
Gwacham is the USU chapter's president, while gymnast Nicki Felley was the vice president, exhausting her term and eligibility this past season. Kaneshiro is the softball representative for SAAC, which includes at least one student-athlete from each of USU's 16 sports.
In addition to Archibald, the conference officials Vicky Foster Director of Graphic Design & Publications, who assists in the SAAC advising, and Megan Allen, Director of Marketing. The WAC SAAC was established in 1998.
Following the conclusion of Saturday's meetings, ,Gwacham was also elected President of the WAC SAAC.
Next year's summer meetings will be held in Boise, Idaho, hosted by Boise State.
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