Rivera Attends NCAA Conference

June 5, 2008

LAWRENCE, <?xml:namespace prefix=”st1″ ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags”?>Kan. — University of Kansas Jayhawks football student-athlete Mike Rivera was selected to participate in the 2008 National Student-Athlete Development Conference on May 27-29 at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando.<?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>

The NCAA hosted more than 700 student-athletes in a forum to discuss topics that affect them on their campuses and in their communities, while also providing them with an opportunity to enhance their leadership skills. Formerly called the NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership Conference, the new Development Conference has doubled the number of student-athletes who attend from 350 to more than 700. The switch to a Development Conference is linked to the NCAA core purpose that the educational experience of student-athletes is paramount. The conference is structured to enhance the skill set and knowledge base of student-athletes, and this year’s curriculum will give the student-athletes more of a voice during the event.

During the past 12 years, the conference has hosted more than 3,500 student-athletes and trained more than 300 athletic facilitators. Past Jayhawk student-athletes who have attended include Darrell Stuckey, football, and Nicole Cauzillo, soccer.

“It was a great opportunity to meet and work with a lot of people with diverse experiences and perspectives,” said Rivera, a Communications Studies major. “I’m excited to bring back the ideas from the conference and work with other student-athletes to continue to make some positive things happen here on our campus.”

Rivera is a member of the Jayhawk Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) Executive Board. He is also a very active member in Kansas Athletics community service activities, including appearing on the READ poster along with student-athletes from all Jayhawk teams. Rivera has received the Chick-fil-a Community of Champions Award, was a 2007 Academic All-Big 12 Football first team selection and was named a preseason All-Big 12 First Team selection by Phil Steele magazine.

Student-athletes discussed a variety of topics, such as game environment, gender equity, religion in sport, social networking, EKG testing, mental health and nutrition. They also discussed division-specific issues, created dialogue surrounding possible solutions to division-specific issues and discussed potential career direction.

In addition to the speaker and discussion sessions, the student-athletes will participate in the conference’s first student-athlete expo where media, non-profit and service organizations will discuss volunteer, career and personal development opportunities.

Coaches, athletics administrators and program facilitators will also attend, along with members from each division’s national SAAC. SAAC is the “voice” of the student-athlete within the NCAA governance structure that provides feedback to NCAA committees and councils regarding student-athlete well-being issues. Following the national conference, the student-athletes will be asked to share their experiences and topic discussions with their campus SAAC, sports teams and campus leaders. They will also develop useful tools and solutions to address issues on their campus and in their community.

Participating student-athletes were selected from a total of 2,000 nomination forms submitted by college and university officials who represent Divisions I, II and III, and fall, winter and spring sports.

Selection criteria for the conference includes a student-athletes’ demonstrated ability and strong desire to be a leader and the student-athletes’ potential to benefit significantly from a development experience.

Of the conference, Robert Vowels, vice-president of education services at the NCAA, said, “The purpose of the 2008 National Student-Athlete Development Conference is to help the student-athletes find their voice in order to shape their future, make a commitment to lead on campus and in the community, strengthen the voice of the conference and national Student Athlete Advisory Committee and provide a process to develop a network with other student-athletes who are motivated to create significant, dramatic and positive change.”