ORLANDO, Fla. — Delaware men’s basketball player Barnett Harris represented the University of Delaware and CAA at the annual NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership Forum on Apr. 9-12.
Harris, a native of Monroeville, Pa. and a two-year letterwinner for the Blue Hens, was one of just 300 student-athletes from all three NCAA Divisions who were selected to attend the conference. Along with being one of only two CAA representatives, he was also one of just seven Division I men’s basketball student-athletes.
The 300 athletes were split into groups of 15-20 athletes, who then completed different projects during the weekend, including working with the Orlando Food Drive organization for a community service project. The student-athletes also filled 1,000 book bags with school supplies and prepared coloring books for underprivileged children in the Orlando area.
The student-athletes also attended a variety of meetings on SAAC and NCAA governance, and discussed their roles in implementing change with decision-makers in the NCAA.
Additionally the participants were able to attend presentations by April Holmes, a Paralympic gold medalist in the 2008 Beijing Games, Mark Everett, who competed in the 800 meters in the 1992 Olympics, and motivational speaker Dr. Derek Greenfield.
Throughout the weekend Harris stood out in becoming one of the faces of the leadership forum by actively participating in video interviews, engaging with the motivational speakers and contributing to the forum as a whole with asking questions and speaking his opinions.
“It was a great experience for me personally, I was able to develop into a better leader and bring a lot of ideas back to Delaware,” Harris said. “It was an honor to represent UD, the CAA and all of Division I basketball at the conference; it was a very humbling experience. I am looking forward to taking more of a leadership role and continuing to build on the reputation of SAAC moving forward.”
Additionally. UD assistant athletics business manager Kristi Nix attended a leadership academy which was held at the same time as the leadership forum with the 300 student-athletes and 70 administrators. She was in a separated concentrated group of 18 administrators including Division I and Division II institutions from around the country. This year marked the first time the academy was held, focusing on helping the administrators set up academies at their respective institutions, train others and implement a leadership program to help facilitate conversation among student-athletes.
The point of the academy was to stress the importance of developing leadership skills and ultimately building character within student-athletes so they will continue to grow as student-athletes and professionals long after their college career has concluded.
“What a tremendous honor it was for me to be one of only 18 professionals chosen from across the nation to have an opportunity to attend the NCAA Leadership Academy, and be surrounded and motivated by great people within the NCAA and throughout college athletics,” Nix said. “As one of Barnett’s SAAC advisors, and with his selection to represent the CAA as a student-athlete leader, I am excited to see what he has learned from the leadership summit and what he can apply on campus at UD and within our SAAC group.”