July 2, 2009
Mississippi State sophomore center D.J. Looney has his bags packed for a trip this month, but it''s not for a vacation.
It''s for business.
Looney will travel to Denver to meet with members of the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. Looney was selected in Junee to represent the Southeastern Conference as a member of the committee.
The purpose of SAAC is part of the governing structure of the NCAA and meets regularly in person and through conference calls. The Division I SAAC is made up of representatives from each conference and their input is sought in several NCAA initiatives from rule changes to student-athletes welfare.
Mississippi State Associated Athletic Director and Senior Women''s Administrator Ann Carr nominated Looney for the national SAAC.
Looney considers it an honor to represent the school and SEC for what he believes is a very necessary program.
"The one we do on campus the way I like to think about it is a bridge between the student-athletes on campus and the administration," Looney said. "It''s the same thing with the national SAAC. We create bylaws that create better playing experience while you are in college."
Looney''s term with SAAC ends in September 2011 and he would be eligible for re-appointment at that time.
After the meeting in Denver, Looney has another session set for November in Indianapolis and he will attend the NCAA Convention next spring in Atlanta.
Mississippi State offensive line coach John Hevesy has no doubt that Looney has what it takes to be an effective leader for SAAC.
"Without knowing anything about him or what he was involved with, the first thing that came into my mind was that he has the voice, personality and charisma of being a politician," Hevesy said. "The more I got to know him, I found out he really was a politician by the way he speaks, the way the players look up to him and listen to him, not just about football, but all aspects of it."
Looney has climbed the student-athletic ladder quickly in terms of leadership with the Bulldogs.
He was the football representative on the MSU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee where student-athletes from each sport come together once a month during the year to meet with athletic department administration.
From there, Looney was one of two Mississippi State student-athletes chosen for the SEC SAAC group, then Carr nominated him for the NCAA SAAC.
Since Looney has to be up to date on all of the happenings with the NCAA, he''s expected to know about the legislation.
It takes quite a bit of his time, but Looney wants to know what''s going on and studies it so he can effectively serve the committee.
"That''s our main job," Looney said. "We try to come up with ways to get things of that magnitude working better and going well.
"You enjoy being busy and embrace it. It''s a lot better than doing nothing so I enjoy it."
Looney will be MSU''s voice on a national level and Associated Athletic Director for Compliance Bracky Brett has been happy to assist him in any way possible.
"We have talked once since he took (SAAC) and he is going to be the president of our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee this year," Brett said. "I think he''ll do a great job. He''s a good young man and he will be a great part of that."
Looney appreciates the support he receives from Brett, Carr, the rest of the administration, the coaching staff, and his teammates as he accepts the challenge of SAAC.
"I''d be foolish to take credit for it," Looney said. "I''ve got great people around me and that makes it a lot easier. I couldn''t ask for any better people."
Looney was rated as the as the No. 11 center prospect in the nation by ESPN.com and the No. 19 prep center in the country by Rivals.com coming out of Oak Mountain High School in Birmingham, Ala.
After redshirting the 2007 season, Looney played in four games for the Bulldogs last year with one start. He was listed behind C.J. Brignone following the spring practice.
Looney finished up the conditioning during the first term of summer school. He called the work tough, but beneficial.
"I think the guys are doing well and working hard," Looney said. "We''re trying to get better every day."
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