Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Prepares for Fall Season
This year, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee plans to increase inter-team cohesion and improve conditions for student-athletes.
Vaibhav Sharma, senior photographer
As students and athletes prepare for fall, the new Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Board of Directors prepares for a new year.
SAAC membership consists of student-athletes, and the organization aims to represent this community at Yale. Specifically, this means advocating for student-athletes at conferences, hosting community service events to increase engagement, and providing a platform and channel for players to voice their concerns. The News spoke with some SAAC members to better understand the organization’s function both as part of the athletic department and as a group at Yale in general.
“My goal for this year is to support our President, [Chelsea Kung ’23], to the best of my ability and working with administrators and other athletic leaders to foster a community where student-athletes are proud to represent Yale,” said SAAC Vice President and football player Bennie Anderson ’24. “We have a terrific group and I’m delighted to work alongside this group of talented leaders.”
Over the summer, Anderson and Kung worked on developing plans and goals for the SAAC board and the school year. Kung, a female tennis player, is in her second term as SAAC president while Anderson served as chair of the DEI subcommittee last year.
This year, field hockey player Rachel Brown ’24 will serve as events chair while golfer Ashley Au ’24 will serve as communications director. Also representing women’s golf, Ami Gianchandani ’23 is the SAAC representative to the NCAA DI executive while track and field runner Kaity Chandrika ’25 is diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. , or DEIB, chair of the board.
“I’ve always wanted to get more involved in running the athletic department, so I thought the [SAAC] would be a good opportunity,” said Bharathi Subbiah ’24, President of the Bulldog Cup and Community Service and member of the women’s track and field team.
The Bulldog Cup is an annual competition in which individual athletes complete tasks to collect the most points. Historically, tasks have centered on promoting inter-team bonds, with an example task being watching another team’s game and posting images online.
However, Subbiah aims to pivot this year’s Bulldog Cup to focus on community service given the large number of athletes on campus.
Helen Tan ’25, a member of the women’s fencing team, is the SAAC Ivy League representative. The Ivy League operates as an independent sports league, with its own governing body and regulations in addition to the DI NCAA regulations.
“My main role is to attend meetings with other Ivy League [teams] and representatives to talk about new legislation affecting student-athletes across the country,” Tan said.
Tan’s goal is also to bring concerns that other student-athletes have had to these conferences to ensure their voices are heard at the highest level. At a fundamental level, Tan aims to “be an accessible spokesperson for all Yale student-athletes and champion their ideas at these meetings and conferences.”
While SAAC is focused on helping Yale teams grow, its Director of Administration is responsible for helping SAAC itself run smoothly. This year, gymnast Sherry Wang ’24 will take on the role. His duties are to “be the main point of internal communication between SAAC members and to communicate all relevant information”.
In 2020, SAAC launched a new project called YUMatter to promote mental health. Women’s lacrosse player Marymegan Wright ’25 is leading this initiative and hopes to grow her presence.
“Over the course of the year, I hope to mobilize the student-athlete community to amplify mental health advocacy on campus, provide student-athletes with mental health resources, and create initiatives that reinforce the importance of prioritize mental health,” Wright wrote to the News.
The first iteration of a student-athlete advisory committee was an association-wide organization that was started by the NCAA in 1989.