The Effects of Decoupling on Internal Organizational Members: Complacency, Apathy, and Hostility

Charles D.T. Macaulay – University of Massachusetts – Amherst

The NCAA’s Division I, II, and III Student-Athlete Advisory Committees (SAACs) sent letters to Congress opposing college athletes’ employee status and expressing concerns about Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) changes. However, several current and former college athletes criticized SAACs for not genuinely representing their interests, revealing a disconnect between SAACs, NCAA, and the vast number of college athletes. There is limited research on SAACs, with sparse critiques and insights into member perspectives. This study scrutinizes how the SAAC system functions, observing a university-level SAAC at a Division I institution. Interviews and observations uncover that SAAC’s decoupled stasis from the athletic department led to athlete complacency, apathy, and conflict. Recognizing SAAC’s limitations and effectively integrating it into department governance is crucial. SAACs can also serve as sites of resistance, enabling change-makers to drive meaningful reform. Understanding SAAC dynamics offers insights into navigating NCAA and collegiate athletics changes.