Grinnell College Student Attends the 2018 NCAA Convention

April 18, 2018

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Conference fosters conversations aimed at improving the college sports experience for student-athletes. Recently, the Wilson Center for Innovation & Leadership helped Mikyla Murphy ’19, a religious studies major, attend the 2018 NCAA Convention from January 17-20 in Indianapolis, IN. “I wanted to attend the convention because my mentors at Grinnell, Heather Benning and Holly Roepke, both spoke very highly of NCAA Convention and of all the learning opportunities there,” Murphy explains. “With the limited opportunities to learn about collegiate sports and athletic administration at Grinnell, I felt like I couldn't pass up such a great first hand opportunity!”

The Division III forum of the convention touched on themes related to ethics and athletics, enrollment management, and a review of legislative proposals such as rules regarding academic misconduct and legislated sanctions associated with sports wagering. In addition, topics such as establishing a campus-wide culture of compliance, building an ethical culture in an athletics department, and providing mental health support for student-athletes, coaches, and staff were examined.

Lessons from the Convention

Perhaps the most memorable aspect of the NCAA Convention for Murphy was attending the various sessions the convention afforded. “I attended events such as the panel on student athlete mental health, the Division III Business Session, and the Midwest Conference Business Meeting. These three events specifically allowed me to become more attuned to not only the needs of all student athletes, but also the role that student athletes play within our conference and within the entirety of Division III,” Murphy explains.

Further, Murphy contributed to the diverse and ongoing conversation regarding the experience of student-athletes by presenting her own original work, and this process ultimately facilitated her personal development as an emerging student-leader. “I got to present to the convention members on the work I do in the convention office, via my internship, and talk with administrators on what would be most useful for them, and in their own athletic departments,” Murphy says. “The experience at the convention broadened my understanding of what other student athletes are going through and deepened my leadership capacity.”

Additionally, the convention introduced Murphy to various mentors and leaders in the field of athletics who inspired her to embrace the challenges associated with being a student-leader at Grinnell. “I met many individuals who have become role models for me, such as Division III co-president Louise McCleary,” Murphy describes. “I was immersed in a world where collegiate athletes and their needs were center to every conversation. I met dozens of athletic administrators, and got to hear their stories on how they made a career out of athletics, and the advice that they picked up along the way.” Ultimately, Murphy aims to bring back the lessons she learned at the convention, particularly those relevant to the broader institution of athletics, back to Grinnell’s athletic department. “I plan on using my newfound connections to bring new ideas into the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for future events and policies,” she writes. “I made valuable connections, learned ways to make our own athletic department better, and how to better improve relations between athletes and administrators.”

“I now have a better understanding of what our athletics administrators are dealing with from within and outside of the department. Also, the convention provided me with a greater understanding of the limitations of our administrators, and the lengthy convention and division processes that change occurs through,” Murphy concludes.

The Wilson Center seeks to inspire and prepare students as innovators and leaders through courses, personal development, and events that emphasize experiential learning.