The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Student-Athlete Advisory Committee supports athletes, promotes involvement

SAAC includes at least one representative from each athletics team.(Photo courtesy of @div1saac on X)
SAAC includes at least one representative from each athletics team.(Photo courtesy of @div1saac on X)

About a quarter of Lafayette’s student population participates in varsity athletics. All student-athletes are represented by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, better known by its initials, SAAC, which is composed of between one and three athletes from each varsity team.

Every NCAA Division I member school has its own Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, as well as an NCAA-wide SAAC which represents all Division I athletes. 

SAAC plays a crucial role in the lives of student-athletes, helping them balance the demands of academics and athletics while ensuring their voices are heard within the athletic department and the broader campus community.

SAAC representatives meet monthly to discuss issues facing student-athletes.

“Our main priority is to enhance the student-athlete experience,” Lafayette SAAC president senior Colleen McNamara said. “We’ll organize fundraisers, encourage fellow athletes to go to each other’s games and act as a general liaison between student athletes and the sports administration.”

McNamara is a member of the women’s lacrosse team.

Representing the swim team is junior Paige Griggs, who swims distance freestyle for the Leopards. Griggs became a representative for her team in 2022 during her sophomore year. She stepped into the role because she wanted to become more involved with the athletic department on campus and thinks that the organization benefits athletes.

“I think that the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee provides a forum for student-athletes to voice any concerns that they have and [serves as] a group that advocates for student-athletes on campus,” Griggs said.

Griggs also believes that the committee plays an integral role in the community in its mission to represent student-athletes.

“The committee allows all athletes, regardless of background, to be involved and have their voices heard,” Griggs said.

A primary objective of the committee is to bring student-athletes together. One of the ways representatives fulfill this goal is by planning events to encourage sportsmanship and relationship-building within the student-athlete body. Last year, the committee hosted the inaugural Leopard Cup competition. If 50 percent of a team’s members attended an athletic department event, that team would earn a point. The team with the highest point total at the end of the year won a trophy. The softball team earned the first ever title in last year’s competition.

“It was a fun, friendly competition for all athletes while also supporting good sportsmanship and supporting other student-athletes,” Griggs said.

Though possibly on different teams, student-athletes often go through similar experiences and challenges in terms of finding a balance between school and sports.

McNamara works with Carly Riepenhoff, an athletics staff member whose job is to support and develop student-athletes on and off the field, and the other co-chairs of the committee. Together, they plan meetings, student-athlete events and fundraisers. 

“If an athlete wanted to get involved, they just have to talk to their SAAC representative or any of the executive board and then there is an application in the spring,” McNamara said. “Then the executive board, alongside Carly, selects people based on their involvement and interest in the program.”

McNamara emphasized that SAAC advocates for the support of all athletic teams at Lafayette. The committee consistently emphasizes the importance of athletes supporting each other in both their academic and athletic endeavors. 

As student-athletes who have become SAAC members, both Griggs and McNamara find themselves honing their communication, teamwork and problem-solving skills in their roles — qualities that are not only beneficial in sports but also in future careers.

“It is just a great way for athletes to meet other athletes [and] support each other at our games while also getting to do an avid amount of community service,” McNamara said.

Charlie Berman ’24 contributed reporting.

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