The SAAC was developed over the summer by Johnson University Athletic Director Brandon Perry, committee president, senior Isaac Morris, and Professor Landon Huffman who is serving as the Faculty Representative of Student-Athlete Development.
“It’s basically like a player’s union,” Perry said. “It gives our athletes a voice on what’s happening in the athletic program, so that’s its main purpose. We added an additional purpose to that, of being able to use it as a way to help organize our ministry opportunities, and community, and social justice opportunities.”
In addition, the committee could help allow Johnson’s athletic programs to reach new levels of competition.
“We looked at NCAA DIII and NAIA DII – some of their standards and practices, and tried to find what would work for us and what would be some good things for us to be doing,” Perry said. “SAAC is actually a DIII requirement for most DIII programs.”
The committee consists of two student athletes from every team and will meet on the first Wednesday of each month.
“There are (currently) 16 different members of the committee and they were each chosen by the respective coaches,” Isaac Morris, the committee’s president, said. “Just leaders that they see give a good voice in their program.”
The committee will not only serve JU’s athletic department and athletes, but the rest of campus as well.
“It’s not just about the athlete. Not just about the participators,” Perry said. “So we want our department to enhance community life. That means if you’re going to a game to find entertainment or true connection with other people…that’s a big deal. So I believe that this department without a doubt is going to engage the entire community and shape it in a number of ways.”
The committee representatives will be able to speak out on issues that effect the entire student body.
“The athletes here have concerns that we need to admit, they’re not just theirs, they’re everybody’s,” Perry said. “So in some ways, athletes are giving a voice to the entire community.”
SAAC will also help JU’s athletic department become involved in the local area.
“One of my big initiatives, first and foremost, is I believe that when you’re planted in a community, as Johnson is planted in South Knoxville, you are to some degree responsible for it,” said Perry. “This opportunity will allow our students to get involved in South Knoxville and look to make some real changes in the areas of social justice.”
In the future, the group hopes to have all student athletes team up with Operation Backyard and Knoxville Leadership Foundation to work on homes in the area.