KOKOMO, Ind. —Indiana University Kokomo athletics is represented on a national level as one local athlete serves on the student advocacy board for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
Cross country team member Tyler Lucas, Kokomo, began his one-year term this summer as chair of the Association of Student-Athletes (ASA), the NAIA’s student advocacy arm of its governance structure.
“We are students before we are athletes,” said Lucas, a junior majoring in communication arts. “My job is to represent my fellow student athletes, and share their view, opinions, and concerns with NAIA leadership. I also educate my peers about NAIA legislation, so they know what it means to them.”
Lucas previously served as an at-large member of the inaugural ASA, which was formed in 2015 to provide a forum for discussion of issues of importance to the student athletes. As chairperson, he leads the association to decide what issues to focus on during the year, and what legislation to propose at the 2017 national conference in San Diego.
Athletic Director Greg Cooper said it is “truly an honor and privilege” for Lucas to be selected for this role, and that it will enhance the reputation of the campus’s athletic programs, which are relatively new compared to those at other NAIA schools.
“Tyler deserves all the credit for achieving this position,” Cooper said. “He took the initiative and made connections when nominated last year. He now gets the opportunity represent the voice of all NAIA student athletes on a national stage. This is an experience that will provide amazing connections for Tyler as he grows as a professional and a person of great character. I could not be happier for him.”
The ASA conducts business by conference call several times during the year, and then meets in person at the annual conference.
Lucas anticipates to making contacts through his leadership position that will help grow IU Kokomo’s athletic programs.
“Since we’re such a young program, it sheds a new light on what we can do,” he said. “I can talk to leaders in the NAIA, and see what other schools are doing, to get ideas how we can build and improve our programs.”
Lucas said the group plans to focus on improving the student athlete experience for women, with his co-chair, Jessica Chase, a volleyball player from Vanguard University, in California, taking leadership on that issue. They’ve also proposed a policy that would allow NAIA athletes to compete as graduate students.
“We emphasized that the fifth year of eligibility has to be in graduate school,” he said. “Why should we allow a fifth year, when you want your students to graduate in four years? It has to be at an NAIA school, and it has to be graduate school.”
He also will co-chair the Council for Student Athletes (CSA), which evaluates and creates policy regarding student athlete health and well being.
Members of the ASA were selected from a pool of nominees proposed by each athletic conference and the Association of Independent Institutions. Each conference and each NAIA championship sport has at least one representative. Lucas represents the River States Conference, formerly known as the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.