By Taylor Fortney
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Getting selected to represent your peers is an honor on any stage.
Getting selected to represent the Big 12 Conference and all of its student-athletes is both an honor and a responsibility, especially as the “highly-visible” conferences began laying the groundwork for autonomy with new rules concerning student-athlete well being.
Texas Tech outfielder Anthony Lyons received that honor as he attended the historic NCAA Convention earlier this year as one of three student-athlete representatives from the Big 12.
“You’re given the opportunity to play a sport at a university and present yourself as best as possible,” Lyons said. “When you get to the point where you are representing not only the university, but your conference, and also the student-athletes of the entire nation, it’s a big chip on your shoulder.”
The NCAA Convention, held January 14-18 in Washington D.C., was the first of its kind where delegates from each of the five major conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC and Pac-12) as well as 15 student-athletes met to establish their own policies.
“It [The NCAA Convention] was historic, in a number of ways,” Texas Tech Director of Athletics Kirby Hocutt said. “One is that the five highly-visibility conferences had the chance to conduct business together for the first time in the NCAA autonomy session.”
The new governance structure, established in August of 2014, allows the five conferences to adopt rules in specific areas to better student-athlete well-being.
Conference and school administrators did so all while allowing student-athletes a voice in the discussion as well.
“We had 15 student-athletes in the room that had voting privileges,” Hocutt said. ”We were so pleased that Anthony Lyons was one of those 15 student-athletes.”
Hocutt was not alone in praising Lyons, as Texas Tech President M. Duane Nellis also endorsed the sophomore outfielder as an ambassador for Texas Tech and student-athletes.
“Anthony is a wonderful choice to represent not only the Big 12 Conference, but also Texas Tech University,” Nellis said. "He is an outstanding student and an even better person. Anthony's daily example is reflective of the student-athletes we have at Texas Tech."
The primary issue that arose at the convention was the ongoing debate for payment to collegiate student-athletes, specifically addressing the cost of attendance for each athlete.
“I took a focus on cost of attendance,” Lyons said. “With proportionality, I was trying to see how it would impact non-head count athletes - baseball, softball, soccer, and other smaller sports. And it was big for me, as a baseball player, because we are not completely on full scholarship. We were trying to figure out how the extra money for cost of attendance would be added on to those scholarships.”
Hocutt elaborated, and further discussed the impact on the coverage of cost of attendance, and how it would affect sports that received limited scholarships.
“The way that the legislation was approved was those sports would see an increase in their scholarship budget,” Hocutt said. “ For example, in the sport of baseball, they receive 11.7 scholarships. So you would take $4,300, the cost of attendance, multiply that by 11.7, so now that denominator increases, and the coaches now have additional aid to award to the student-athletes within their particular sports.”
Lyons is well versed in representing his peers, as he is also an executive cabinet member of the Texas Tech Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).
On the baseball diamond, Lyons is currently hitting .345 this season with four RBI as one of No. 23 Texas Tech’s top options off the bench, as the designated hitter or in the outfield.
No matter how great Lyons career turns out on the baseball diamond, he will always be remembered as one of the 15 student-athletes who attended that first NCAA Convention – one he will not likely forget himself.
“This was a great experience,” Lyons said. “We were able to express our opinions and our voices were heard.”