Student - Athlete Development Program

Involvement: Offer leadership and service experiences and advocate for increased student-athlete involvement on campus and in the community.

Student-Athlete Advisory Committee
A first-of-its-kind in the nation, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) began in 1993 under the direction of Dr. Kate Riffee and is recognized by The Ohio State University as an official student organization with the Office of Student Life. Previously called the Student-Athlete Advisory Board, this organization was created to provide student-athletes the opportunity to gather and discuss current events, programs, policies, and initiatives that student-athletes felt were impacting their lives.

Each team has 1-2 representatives who serve as liaisons between the student-athlete population, the Department of Athletics, SASSO, and the Ohio State community. The goals of SAAC are to promote effective communication between the Department of Athletics administration and the student-athlete population, and provide feedback regarding educational and student-athlete development programs that serve the needs of today’s student-athletes. SAAC also provides input on policies and programming and helps plan community events and initiatives. The SAAC membership meets monthly and is organized and facilitated by the SAAC President and the SAAC Executive Board. Annual SAAC sponsored events include:

– Buckeyes Care Day

– Faculty-Staff Appreciation Event

– National Student-Athlete Day

– Scarlet & Graymies Awards Show

Wolstein Leadership Academy
In an effort to develop and nurture the leadership skills necessary for achievement on and off the playing field, the Ohio State Department of Athletics initiated the Wolstein Leadership Academy, comprised of approximately 60 Ohio State student-athletes selected to participate in the development program based on recommendations from coaches.

Service Learning (International & Domestic)
SASSO offers and advocates for increased student-athlete involvement on campus and in the community via several service-learning opportunities. International Service Trips:

– SASSO coordinates opportunities for student-athletes to actively engage in serving abroad. Trip participants spend time immersing themselves in an international country’s culture while being exposed to community service in a local community. Typically including 2 SASSO staff, 1 Athletics Communication staff, and 9-12 student-athletes, previous trip locations include Costa Rica (May 2015), Jamaica (May 2016) and Bolivia (August 2016) with the organization Soles4Souls.

Buck-I-Serv Domestic Trips:

– SASSO partners with Buck-I-Serv to offer a domestic service learning trip exclusively for student-athletes; Buck-I-Serv’s mission is to provide students with a challenging and engaging opportunity to lead and learn through direct service experiences. Students learn the importance of reflection, social justice, active citizenship, and civic engagement while gaining new perspectives through working in diverse environments. Previous trips were held in May and include Chicago (2015) and New Orleans (2016); Buck-I-Serv offers trips during breaks year round for all students.

Coach for College:

– Each year SASSO and the Department of Athletics provide full financial support for two student-athletes to participate in the Coach for College program. Coach for College (CFC) is a service-learning program where American college student-athletes and Vietnamese university students work together to teach academics, sports, and life skills to disadvantaged children in rural Vietnam with an aim to reduce the school dropout rate. Students applying for the Study Abroad Scholarships are informed of the opportunity and asked to indicate their interest in participating in this program. More information can be found here:

MLK Day of Service:

– Hosted by Pay It Forward and the Frank W. Hale Black Cultural Center each January, MLK Day of Service allows students, faculty, and staff to make their day off a “day on” by participating in service throughout the central Ohio area.

Leadership & Community Service Participation
SASSO promotes involvement in opportunities on and off campus, such as the Student Involvement Fair, involvement in one of Ohio State’s 1,000+ student organizations, the Presidential Host Program, the Annual Conference on Leadership & Civic Engagement, NCAA Leadership Forum, community service opportunities, and more.