A Q&A With D.J. Looney

Mississippi State football player D.J. Looney is affectionately called the Governor by folks on campus primarily due to his likeability and exceptional communication skills. And as most of you know by now, those same two skills have helped him earn the job of President of the Mississippi State Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) as well as the SEC representative of the same group.

D.J. Looney, along with 30 other D-I conference SAAC representatives, had their first national leadership meeting in Denver a couple of weeks ago. D.J. met with Gene's Page and talked about that meeting as well as SAAC in general.

What is the actual goal of SAAC?
"The goal in our mission is what can we do to make the playing experience of a student-athlete better in their four years."

You went to Denver a couple of weeks ago for the SAAC meeting. What were things that were discussed during the meeting?
"We had to go out there and meet about some legislation and by-laws and get acquainted with everybody."

Were there any possible changes talked about while you were there?
"There were a couple of things discussed that are up for vote soon - sand volleyball and moving the baseball season (start date) up a week."

Were there some things you learned at the meeting that you were able to bring back to Mississippi State?
"It's not so much what I could bring back to the school. I represent the conference, so I have to speak with people in the conference and gauged their overall stand on issues. We'll then decide what is the best solution for the issues."

Am I correct in saying that all the issues are 100% NCAA-related?
"Yes. Like I was just saying, our committee is one that is going to vote on how far we will push sand volleyball. And that is a big piece of legislation because it is on the emerging sports list. So, they are trying to decide whether they will take if off the emerging sports list or pass it. And with baseball we are discussing moving the baseball season up a week early."

Is the SAAC able to suggest new rules or changes in existing rules?
"We can. We can initiate discussions. If (the NCAA) think it's important enough, then they will get the the governing people in the head office in Indianapolis to write it up and it'll go from there.

"SAAC has passed several rules. It is a very important group and there is a lot of work done by them. It's a ton of work outside of the meetings but I'm happy I did it. It's a year-round job because you are always receiving emails and researching things, talking to people around campus, and contacting other SEC schools and figuring out their stance on things."

When you contact the other SEC schools who do you contact?
"I'm the president of our SAAC on the Mississippi State campus. And every other school has a campus SAAC (committee), so I usually try to contact one of their representatives. The SEC will have two SAAC meetings, one in the spring and one in the fall and we'll discuss everything going on in our conference."

Is there any one thing that you are personally interested in resolving?
"A big deal is money. We are trying to find different ways to deal with money.

"I think a big issue with our overall scheme that is coming up is the Likeness Clause. It's going to be about all the lawsuits against EA Sports for (college sports) video games. Even though they don't have our names on the video games, they have our hometowns and exactly how we look. There have been four or five people who have sued EA Sports and the NCAA for using their likeness and not paying them for using it. We haven't had a conference call with the (other) SEC (SAAC representatives) yet but as soon as we have it I am going to ask them if they feel like they should be reimbursed for people using their likeness."

In the Mississippi State athletic department who do you deal with?
"Miss (Ann) Carr is our staff liaison and our life skills person. She is an amazing woman and great to work for and great to work with."

How many people are in the SAAC group at each university and how often do you meet?
"Football is the only sport that has two representatives - Zach Smith and me. Every other sport has one representative. We meet in the morning the first Tuesday of every month at the Bryan Building."

You are obviously a people person. Is this job right up your alley?
"It is unbelievable the connections that I have made. I got to meet my fellow SAAC'ers of the other 30 conferences and the liaison. They are amazing people and it was an automatic connection like I've known them all my life. I met the Pepperdine Athletic Director because he was on the Division-I SAAC committee. I sat beside him for four days (while in Denver) and talked about how to run a (athletic department) program. There were also three big-time NCAA government staff members that were there who create and pass the by-laws."

What is your long-term career goal once you are through with football?
"I struggle with that. My major is Management and my secondary is Education. And I think I'm about to pick up Sports Marketing. So, I don't know what I want to do but I do know I want to be involved with people. And I want to be the best that I can be at whatever I do."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

Gene's Page Top Stories