Rowan student chairs NCAA committee

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Senior Brittany Petrella also dubbed "Woman of the Year."

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for senior Brittany Petrella. First the Monmouth County senior became chair of the NCAA Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and then a statewide athletic group named her Rowan’s “Woman of the Year”.

As chair of the SAAC, Petrella, a public relations major, is helping voice the concerns of student athletes from all over America to senior NCAA officials.

Petrella, who was one of 24 student-athletes who served on the national committee before being selected to chair it, said the body has advised the NCAA on a wide range of issues since she joined it two years ago including regulations on fundraising and on the NCAA’s recent partnership with the Special Olympics.

“A big issue we’re dealing with right now is the issue of transgender student athletes,” said Petrella, 22, who was named chair of the advisory panel during the NCAA’s national convention in San Antonio in January.

She said the NCAA doesn’t have an official policy on transgender athletes.

“Basically what the NCAA goes off now is what’s on your drivers license,” Petrella said. “We’re looking at competitive equity and well-being issues.”

Of utmost concern, she said, is the suicide rate among transgender students and helping to ease at least one of the students’ concerns – how, when and where they may compete as athletes.

“We’re trying to develop guidelines and information,” she said. “For example, how do you talk about it with your teammates? What we as a committee talk about is how we can help these students.”

As chair, she not only presides over the board but represents Rowan University, the New Jersey Athletic Conference and the Liberty League which includes 13 colleges and universities in the state of New York.

Prior to joining the national board, Petrella served on the Rowan SAAC, a group that represents the university’s own student athletes to the administration and performs community service projects throughout the year.

“For student athletes it’s important to know there’s a place to voice their opinions and that their opinions will be heard,” she said.

Petrella, who seeks a career in sports management or sports administration, played varsity lacrosse at Rowan her first two years and has been a member of Rowan’s cross country team for the last two. A scholar-athlete who carries a 3.398 GPA, she was named the Rowan University Woman-of-the-Year Feb. 6 by the New Jersey Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women.

Petrella said this is the 19th year that the NJAIAW has so designated student-athletes and considers such factors as scholarship, performance and community service.

“I’m very happy about it,” she said of the recognition. “It really is a big honor.”

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