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Nebraska's Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) was implemented in 1987 to ensure that student-athletes have a voice regarding their total student-athlete experience.  SAAC is a recognized student organization at the University of Nebraska and consists of at least one team appointed representative from each of Nebraska's 24 intercollegiate teams.  SAAC meets bi-weekly throughout the academic year, communicating directly with Director of Athletics, Shawn Eichorst on various student-athlete welfare issues.  SAAC also coordinates a number of events within the athletic department and in the community of Lincoln to promote the importance of education, service and responsible decision making.  Nebraska's SAAC has been recognized across the country as one of the most comprehensive, consistent and productive in the country.  Life Skills Coordinator, Jessie Gardner serves as the SAAC advisor.


Mission & Values

SAAC serves as the voice of the student-athletes, developing and displaying LEADERSHIP by:

  • Exhibiting INTEGRITY through all actions.
  • Striving to EMPOWER growth and community within each respective team.
  • Fostering UNITY across the athletic department and student-athlete body.
  • Promoting STUDENT-ATHLETE WELFARE for the betterment of their collegiate experience.



2013-2014 SAAC President









2013-2014 SAAC President, Sunny Russell

For the 2013-2014 academic year, SAAC will be led by President Sunny Russell (Rifle), with support from Ryan Grassel (Men's Golf) as the Vice President.  Mattie Fowler (Softball) will function as the Big Ten Representative and Jake Griess (Track & Field) will serve as the Community Outreach officer. 

2013-2014 SAAC Officers

Pictured left to right: Ryan Grassel, Mattie Fowler, Jake Griess


Appointed SAAC Team Representatives

Student-Athlete Advisory Committee team representatives are determined and appointed by each respective intercollegiate team at Nebraska.  In addition to attending bi-weekly meetings, SAAC representatives are responsible for communicating SAAC developments and opportunities to their teammates on an ongoing basis.  Representatives for the 2013-2014 year include:

Baseball - Kyle Kubat and Caleb Hawkins

Men's Basketball - Shavon Shields

Women's Basketball - Sadie Murren and Katie Simon

Bowling - Amanda Burau and Liz Kuhlkin

Men's Cross Country - London Hawk and Trevor Vidlak

Women's Cross Country - Sarah Larson

Football - Sam Burtch, Trey Foster, Graham Nabity, and Johnny Stanton

Men's Golf - Ross Dickson and Ryan Grassel

Women's Golf - Steffi Niesen and Morgan Smejkal

Men's Gymnastics - Eric Schryver

Women's Gymnastics - Hollie Blanske, Desire Stephens, and Jamie Schleppenbach

Rifle - Maggie Mical and Sunny Russell

Sand Volleyball - Kelsey Fien

Soccer - Sam AremanKylie Greischar, and Jordan Jackson

Softball - Mattie Fowler

Swimming and Diving - Alexandra Bilunas and Katt Sickle

Men's Tennis - Thomas Blackwell

Women's Tennis - Maggy Lehmicke

Men's Track and Field - Jake Griess and Seth Wiedel

Women's Track and Field - Ellie Grooters and Maggie Malone

Volleyball - Sheridan Zarda

Wrestling - Ian Ousley


2013-2014 SAAC Meeting Dates

Mondays at 6:30 p.m. - Media Cafeteria, Level 6 of West Stadium, unless otherwise indicated

Sunday, August 25th - SAAC Retreat, 2:00pm, Memorial Stadium

September 9th

September 16th

September 30th

October 14th

October 28th

November 11th

November 25th

December 9th

January 13th

January 27th

February 10th

February 24th

March 10th

March 31th

April 14th

April 21st - Officer Elections


SAAC 2012-2013 Year-In-Review

The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC)  enjoyed a productive year in 2012 and 2013 reaching new heights under the leadership of SAAC President, Golf student-athlete Neil Dufford.  Fellow officers included Sunny Russell (Rifle), Big Ten Representative and Secretary Eric Schryver (Gymnastics).  SAAC identified numerous charges forming regular sub-committees including the following:

  • Community Outreach
  • Campus Collaboration
  • Team Interaction
  • Student-Athlete Welfare
  • Technology

The Community Outreach sub-committee planned a holiday outreach event at the Peoples City Mission.  The event included student-athletes interacting with youth, playing games, singing carols and distributing gifts including bracelets and wristbands.  Also, the Outreach committee planned National Student-Athlete Day in April consisting of middle school outreach, radio interviews to educate the public about the demands and lives of student-athletes and an appreciation hot breakfast at the training table.

Under the leadership of Dufford, the Campus Collaboration group created RED Fridays.  Remember Everyone Deployed was a partnership between SAAC and ROTC honoring military serving our country who were University of Nebraska-Lincoln students and/or student-athletes.  On select Fridays throughout the academic year, an info card along with wrist bracelets were distributed to students and staff asking them to remember our service men and women who are battling for our freedom. 

Student-Athlete Welfare Surveys were once again initiated by SAAC.  Each team completed a 10 question on-line survey aimed at gathering annual feedback within the school year to assess how students feel about their overall college experience as well as identify areas for potential improvement.  Feedback was shared with sport administrators and the Director of Athletics.

Diversity Day at the Athletic Department Lewis Training Table took place once in the fall and once in the spring due to the efforts of the Team Interaction committee.  In an effort to capitalize upon the rich diversity of Nebraska Athletics, teams were encouraged to step out of their comfort zone and dine with athletes outside of their immediate team.  Special dinners and desserts took place and the student-athletes enjoyed meeting others outside of their sport and developing new relationships.  Golf student-athlete Ryan Grassel played a key role in the implementation of Diversity Day.

Under the leadership of track athlete Bjorn Barrefors, Rifle athlete Sunny Russell and Life Skills Coordinator Jessie Gardner, SAAC integrated Leadership Development within each team meeting.  Barrefors and Russell attended an NCAA Leadership Symposium providing them with the resources and leadership tools to implement with SAAC.  Leadership exercises helped further build trust, communication, self-confidence and chemistry among the group.  Athletes met weekly with Gardner to identify leadership development priorities.  Also, SAAC leaders facilitated a number of icebreaker opportunities allowing members to become better connected.

Finally, SAAC relied more heavily on social media to communicate their vision and events using facebook and twitter.  Also, tennis student-athlete Christopher Aumueller shared is graphic design skills helping create the Student-Athlete Day Information card and the RED Friday card.

SAAC Advisors for 2012-2013 included Keith Zimmer and Jessie Gardner.  Officers elected for the 2013-2014 academic year include:  Sunny Russell (Rifle) President; Ryan Grassel (Golf) Vice President; Mattie Fowler (Softball) Big Ten Representative; and Jake Griess (Track and Field) Community Outreach.

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