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May 24, 2007

University of South Carolina’s women’s soccer junior Kimmy Gillespie has been selected to participate in the NCAA National Student-Athlete Leadership Conference, May 27-31 at Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Gillespie was among the 355 student-athletes from Division I, II and III colleges and universities across the country who will attend the 11th annual conference. William Brown, a rising senior member of the football team will also be attending the conference as a facilitator. William is a member of the Division I National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee representing the Southeastern Conference.

The NCAA National Leadership Conference is a forum in which student-athletes have an opportunity to enhance their leadership and decision-making skills and discuss key issues in intercollegiate athletics that affect them on their campus and in their community. The NCAA National Leadership Conference also promotes better communication among student-athletes, coaches, administrators, faculty and communities.

The conference consists of daily exercises and activities to help the student-athletes develop as individuals and as contributing members to society.

During the leadership conference, student-athletes will discuss a variety of topics such as sportsmanship, substance abuse, social networking sites, hazing, recruiting climate, professional development and integrating student-athletes into campus. They will also discuss division-specific issues, create dialogue surrounding possible solutions to division-specific issues and discuss potential career direction. In addition to the speaker and discussion sessions, the student-athletes will participate in initiative and team building games at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex.

Coaches, athletics administrators and program facilitators will also attend. In addition, members from each division’s national Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) will facilitate at the event. SAAC provides feedback to NCAA committees and councils regarding student-athlete well-being issues and is the “voice” of the student-athlete within the NCAA governance structure.

Session speakers for the leadership conference will be: Sekou Andrews representing Vision Management; Debbie Antonelli, national television broadcaster; Myles Brand, president, NCAA; Steven Connell representing Vision Management; Beth Debauche, director, NCAA Division I governance; Anita DeFrantz, president, Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles and member of the NCAA Leadership Advisory Board; Bernard Franklin, senior vice president, NCAA governance, membership, education and research services; Richard Lapchick, chair and program director, DeVos Sport Business Management Program; Karen Morrison, director, education services; Leah Nilsson, director, NCAA Division III governance; Delise O’Meally, director, governance, membership, education and research services; Christi Pedra, president and CEO, Siemens Hearing Instruments and member of the NCAA Leadership Advisory Board; Wally Renfro, senior advisor to the NCAA president; Peter Roby, director, Center for the Study of Sport in Society; Terri Steeb, director, NCAA Division II governance; and Tom Stewart, managing principal, Andrew Thomas & Company, L.L.C. and member of the NCAA Leadership Advisory Board.

Following the leadership conference, the student-athletes will be asked to share their experiences and topic discussions with their campus SAAC, sports teams and campus leaders. The participants also develop an action plan that will address an issue on their campus or in their community and implement the plan once they return to their member institution. The student-athlete participants were selected from a total of 1,316 nomination forms that were submitted by college and university officials who have NCAA CHAMPS/Life Skills programs on their campus. They represent Divisions I, II and III, and fall, winter and spring sports.

Selection criteria for the conference includes the student-athletes’ demonstrated ability and strong desire to be a leader and the student-athletes’ potential to benefit significantly from a leadership development experience. In order to be eligible for the conference, the student-athletes must adhere to the following requirements:

• be in good academic standing,

• have athletics eligibility remaining in the following academic year,

• must be returning to campus for the following academic year,

• must participate in a NCAA-sponsored sport during the current academic year,

• must demonstrate a desire or the ability to lead, and

• they are expected to participate fully in all conference activities.

A selection committee chaired by Cricket Lane, director of student-athlete development at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, reviewed the nominations to determine the final selections. This year the committee selected a combined 331 student-athletes from all three divisions, comprised of 163 males and 168 females; 148 ethnic minorities, 150 Caucasians, and 33 international students. Four student-athletes representing the America-Israel Friendship League will also participate in the conference.

For more information on the CHAMPS/Life Skills Program, please visit the website at or call (803) 777-8704.