The Fairfield University campus features many groups and organizations that work in plain view and behind the scenes to support the community, but one lesser-known organization is the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).
Established in 1989 at the national level, the SAAC is a National Collegiate Athletic Association initiative that provides student-athletes with a means of sharing their campus experiences and providing input on rules and policies pertaining to collegiate sports, both at the conference and national level.
Therefore, Fairfield’s committee works directly with the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference alongside our conference rivals to communicate relevant news and coordinate certain programs and initiatives on behalf of all Fairfield student-athletes.
Each varsity team has three players on the committee, with existing members selecting teammates who demonstrate great leadership qualities to take on the role after they graduate.
Though the SAAC is heavily involved with the development and change of conference and national guidelines and regulations, its efforts also involve providing an inclusive and safe campus environment for student-athletes. One such example, as noted by Fairfield committee co-president Joseph Stocchetti ‘24, is the “green bandana project”.
“Chosen student-athletes on each team will walk around campus with a green bandana on their backpack,” Stocchetti said. “They act as a person to talk to when you are going through something and are in need of some inspiration or guidance.”
Stocchetti, a member of the men’s soccer team, believes these smaller scale and more personal initiatives are equally as valuable to the SAAC as the conference and nationwide input the students are afforded.
“We want all students to know we are here to help.”
Stocchetti also believes that the SAAC’s reach extends beyond the internal affairs of athletics programs, noting that the connections fostered by the committee often lead to greater turnout at home games and help equip student-athletes with skills they’ll use in their lives going forward.
“[The SAAC] brings real-world scenarios into the college setting,” he said, “as there are roles for everyone that are crucial to having operations run smoothly and precisely.”
Since expanding to encompass all three divisions of collegiate athletics in 1997, the SAAC has trickled down to each individual university, and the NCAA itself has a committee of select student-athletes representing universities across the country that works most closely with association officials. Ultimately, it is the agency given to each and every student-athlete that makes the SAAC such a valuable part of the Fairfield community and the collegiate community at large.
“Many people love being involved and having a voice for themselves,” Stocchetti said, “and that is exactly what you can expect from all of our members.”