SMU's Dodd Named National SAAC Vice Chair
SMU senior Spencer Dodd was recently elected as the National SAAC Vice Chair.
SMU senior Spencer Dodd was recently elected as the National SAAC Vice Chair.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014
by Evan O'Kelly, Media Relations Assistant

PORTLAND, Ore. – When Spencer Dodd decided to attend Saint Martin’s University after graduating from Eagle High School in Idaho in 2010, he set out to pursue his career as a baseball player while maximizing the value of his education.

What he has accomplished since then spans far beyond the scope of a typical student-athlete.

Dodd, a senior first baseman on the Saint Martin’s baseball team, was recently elected as the Vice Chair of Division II National Student Athlete Advisory Committee, a position he will fill for the next year.

Landing towards the top of the NCAA SAAC hierarchy, the role of the Vice Chair is to serve on the four-member executive board and provide various services to different levels of SAACs across Division II. “We are on additional conference calls throughout the year and we kind of work behind the scenes to outline meeting agendas and assist committees,” Dodd commented regarding his new role.

All SAACs are comprised of student-athletes and provide them and their peers with a voice on NCAA legislative materials and governance issues. Topics span from student-athlete graduation requirements to game environment improvement, and committees at each NCAA member institution are encouraged to develop creative ideas to improve and enhance the overall student-athlete experience.

Dodd got his first taste of being a SAAC member through a connection on the Saints’ baseball team during his freshman year at Saint Martin’s. “I knew SMU was where I wanted to go as soon as I visited in high school and that I wanted to play baseball here, but I had no idea what SAAC was,” Dodd said regarding his decision to attend SMU. “One day after practice Mike McIver put his arm around me and said, ‘you’re coming to our SAAC meeting tonight,’ and that’s how I first got started.”

McIver, a 2011 graduate and fellow first baseman, help spark an interest in Dodd that would develop further than either of them could have imagined.

After serving on the Saint Martin’s SAAC and eventually representing the school at the conference level as one of its figures on the Great Northwest Athletic Conference SAAC, Dodd applied to be a member of the national committee his junior year. “Nykki Schele the previous Sports Information Director here mentioned to me that there was an opening at the national level and encouraged me to apply,” Dodd remembered. “When I got accepted and began to participate at that level is where I really found that college athletics is what I’m passionate about and want to go into in the future.”

Helping Dodd realize his passion for a career in college athletics was Katie Simons, who serves as the advisor for the SMU SAAC in addition to her role as the Saints’ Sports Information Director. “Spencer is a leader for all of our student-athletes and is great at taking the initiative and finding ways to make a bigger impact on our campus,” Simons commented on Dodd’s role at SMU. “Whether it’s through legislation or planning community engagement events, he is really good at rallying our student-athletes through athletics.”

In his final year as a student-athlete at Saint Martin’s, Dodd has facilitated efforts by not only his school’s SAAC, but the GNAC SAAC as well to brainstorm and carry out fundraising and community engagement ideas that can be implemented on every campus in the conference. “At SMU we have done a great job with Make-A-Wish, and have experimented with some other ideas such as the Saints Cup,” Dodd commented on developments from the SMU SAAC.

The inaugural Saints Cup, which Dodd laid the framework for and Simons helped execute, pits each of SMU’s varsity sports against one another in a friendly competition to earn points for fundraising efforts and school spirit. Teams earn points in the standings based on a combination of activities, and at the end of the 2013-14 school year one team will be crowned Saints Cup Champion.

“We realized that the (SMU) SAAC was a little bit one-dimensional and that we wanted to find a way to get each of our teams involved,” Dodd commented regarding the implementation of the Saints Cup. “We have really begun to take pride in our game environment initiatives and are focusing on adding different events and getting our student-athletes involved in community service as well.”

On a national level, the overall mindset of improving game environments in all sports across Division II is reciprocated, and several initiatives are unfolding in different areas with potential for widespread adoption. “One of the biggest programs at the national level is ‘Team Impact,’ where college teams draft a Make-A-Wish kid for a season,” Dodd said regarding a rising program in the Eastern region.

As participants in ‘Team Impact,’ kids selected are given the opportunity to attend practices, games, and wear team jerseys of the team they are drafted to throughout the season. “The kids are essentially on the team, and the goals are to integrate them into a team environment and use our avenues at the national level to potentially spread the idea outside of the East Coast,” Dodd commented.

As Dodd’s athletic career concludes after his final spring on the baseball team, the lessons he has learned and the growth his teammates and peers have witnessed will carry on as he pursues a career that combines his passions. “Originally I wanted to work at Boeing,” Dodd said about his ambitions as he began college. “Now, I’m going to pursue some sort of further education or an NCAA post graduate internship.” 

“Spencer has set himself up perfectly,” Simons commented on Dodd’s preparation for his next step in life. “In addition to SAAC he is very involved with our game management and understands the inner workings of the NCAA, and I really think it’s a combination of his experience and the passion he has for college athletics that will allow him to continue having a positive influence.”

Equipped with a wealth of experience through his unique opportunities as a SAAC member, Dodd will graduate this spring well prepared to continue impacting collegiate athletics and build upon what promises to be a lasting legacy at Saint Martin’s University, the GNAC, and the NCAA as a whole.