BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Diamond DeShields, a member of the University of Tennessee women's basketball team; Jay Hughes, a member of the Mississippi State University football team; and Josh Tobias, a member of the University of Florida baseball team, have been named to represent the Southeastern Conference on proposed governance rule changes under the NCAA's recently adopted Division I autonomy process.
The three student-athletes will represent the SEC as part of the Five Conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12, SEC) to "engage and empower student-athletes by giving them both a voice and vote within a transparent decision-making process."
The NCAA Division I Board of Directors voted in August to restructure how schools and conferences govern themselves, paving the way for student-athletes to have a voice at every level of decision-making.
The new model grants flexibility to schools in the Atlantic Coast, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12 and Southeastern conferences to change rules for themselves in a list of specific areas within Division I. The legislative process for these 65 schools includes three student-athlete representatives from each conference who will vote on rule changes. Voting on autonomy issues includes 15 student-athletes (three from each of the Five Conferences) who, collectively, will cast votes in greater number than four of the Five Conferences.
"In development of the new autonomy structure, we emphasized the importance of student-athletes from the Five Conferences having both a voice and vote on NCAA matters," said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive. "These three student-athletes will represent the SEC well and will help make some very important decisions in the weeks and months ahead."
DeShields, a sophomore Communications major from Norcross, Ga., is a redshirting guard on the Lady Vol basketball team after transferring to Tennessee from the University of North Carolina prior to the 2014-15 athletic year. She was named the 2014 National Freshman of the Year by several news organizations, honorable mention All-America and first team all-conference. She will be eligible to compete for the Lady Vols beginning in 2015-16.
DeShields comes from a family rich in athletic prowess. Her mother was an All-America track and field athlete at Tennessee, her father played 13 years in Major League Baseball and her brother is a minor league baseball player.
Hughes graduated in May with a Bachelor's degree in History and is currently working on his Master's degree in Workforce Education Leadership. A native of Hattiesburg, Miss., Hughes was a regular starter his senior year at strong safety and helped lead Mississippi State to a 10-2 record in a 2014 regular season that saw the Bulldogs rank as high as No. 1 in the country.
Hughes was a team captain for the Bulldogs in 2014 and a member of the SEC Community Service Team. His father, Tony, is the assistant head coach for the Mississippi State football team.
Tobias, a senior Geological Sciences - Environmental Geosciences major from Greensboro, N.C., was Florida's starting third baseman for most of the 2014 season while batting .305 for the SEC Champion Gator baseball team and helped lead Florida to the College World Series his freshman year of 2012. He was a member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll each of the last two years as well as the First-Year Academic Honor Roll his freshman season.
A member of the 2014 SEC Community Service Team, he participated in Climb for Cancer, a Florida student-athlete sponsored event; and the Annual Gator Tracks shoe drive, among other service projects. He is a member of the University of Florida Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and a Florida Letterman Award Committee Member and Presenter.
The three student-athletes will participate in their first NCAA Convention in January 2015, in Washington, D.C.