Men's Basketball's Billy Garrett Jr., represented DePaul at the BIG EAST's annual SAAC Meeting
July 11, 2014
CHICAGO - Billy Garrett Jr.'s emerging leadership role was certainly elevated when the men's basketball team captain represented DePaul at the BIG EAST Conference Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) meeting in Providence, R.I.
Student-athlete representatives from nine of the BIG EAST's 10 member institutions came together June 22-23 to discuss important NCAA, conference and college athletics matters with conference staff.
Included in the meeting was a presentation from sports psychologist Dr. Jarrod Spencer, president and founder of Mind of the Athlete, LLC organization that strives to strengthen and improve the emotional health of athletes.
There was also along a trip to the Boys & Girls Club of Providence Fox Point Clubhouse where student-athletes spoke with approximately 60 club members about their backgrounds and sports experiences, the importance of staying in school and how attaining a college education has provided the opportunity to participate in Division I athletics.
After the presentation, the student-athletes played basketball and soccer and participated in other activities with the children.
"My favorite part of the trip was going to the local Boys and Girls Club," Garrett said. "We played games with the kids and talked to them. I tried to tell them some things that will make them a better basketball player and a better person.
"It reminded me of when I was a little kid looking up to the older guys who would come and spend time with us."
Along with the other student-athletes, Garrett interacted with BIG EAST Commissioner Val Ackerman, Associate Commissioner Jennifer Condaras, Senior Associate Commissioner Joseph D'Antonio, Chief Marketing Officer Ann Wells Crandall, Director of Championships Tania Kennedy and Seton Hall Associate Athletic Director Kim Keenan-Kirkpatrick who served as an administrative liaison.
"It was a great experience and I got a lot out of it," Garrett said. "I met a lot of people from different backgrounds, different parts of the country and from different sports.
"We talked a lot about the college experience and some of the obstacles we all encountered as student-athletes. There's the pressure of competing and performing every day while also maintaining good grades in the class room.
"I picked up a few new things about how to react and keep control of various situations and learned about ways to make myself a better student-athlete."
The conference leadership listened closely to the student representatives.
"This was a great opportunity for these student-athletes to have an open dialogue with BIG EAST Commissioner Val Ackerman," Condaras said. "They were able to ask her questions on the future of the conference and also provide some great feedback on improving the student-athlete experience."
Garrett immersed himself in the two-day event.
"We talked about ways to uphold the prestigious BIG EAST tradition and continue the legacy of those who came before us," Garrett said. "BIG EAST Commissioner Val Ackerman is an amazing lady. She was in such command and gave us a lot of insight into the BIG EAST and what we want the conference to be.
"What I will bring back to the Captains' Council are the issues we discussed including the Ed O'Bannon antitrust case against the NCAA and the matter of Northwestern's football players looking to form a union.
"Also, what are things we can do to improve the BIG EAST and make it the best conference in the country? One point we brought up at the SAAC meeting was making the BIG EAST website more user friendly."
The SAAC meeting provided Ackerman with more insight into the conference and its student-athletes.
"We place great value on the contributions of our student-athletes to university life and take great pride in the manner in which they represent our schools in intercollegiate competition," Ackerman said. "We look forward to working on an ongoing basis with our SAAC representatives to make sure that the concerns of our student-athletes are represented and their ideas about how to improve their athletic and academic experiences are integrated into our near and long-term conference planning."