«This study examined whether the academic success, specifically the grade-point average, NCAA progress-towards-degree, and freshman to sophomore ...»
Shulman and Bowen (2001) and Bowen and Levin (2003) argue that studentathletes routinely are given preferential treatment in the admissions process and therefore are more likely to struggle academically. They also find that participating in high profile sports may impede a student-athletes’ ability to learn for self- understanding, gain higher order thinking skills, and might decrease their motivation to succeed academically. Other studies (Pascarella et al., 1995; Terenzini, Pascarella, & Blimling, 1996) reveal no difference between student-athletes and non-athletes regarding their cognitive development and grade-point averages. Due to small sample sizes and studies focusing on institutions with varying academic profiles, it is very difficult to draw any clear conclusions on the effect of participating in college athletics and the cognitive development of student-athletes (Umbach, Palmer, Kuh, & Hanna, 2006).
Shulman and Bowen (2001) state, Compared with other students, athletes report having grown less as people at college and having spent limited time at cultural events, pursuing new interests, or meeting new people from different backgrounds... Time pressure is not wholly responsible for these deficits, as other students who are equally active in extracurricular pursuits make time for more of the... broadening activities. (p.
72) Time Commitment Some researchers have found that the time demands faced by student-athletes negatively affect academic performance (Meyer, 1990; Parham, 1993) resulting in lower grade-point averages (Cantor & Prentice, 1996; Simons, Van Rheenen, & Covington, 1997). According to the mo st recent NCAA “GOALS: Growth, Opportunity, Aspirations, and Learning of Students in College” survey (NCAA, 2007a), football players are spending 44.8 hours a week practicing, playing, and/or training. One might assume that these student-athletes are neglecting their studies, but football players also report studying 39.5 hours per week. Although NCAA (2007a) rules limit mandatory practice and playing time to 4 hours a day and 20 hours per week, not including travel and rehabilitation time, student-athletes are permitted to spend their free time however they like, and many student-athletes choose supplemental practice and/or training activities (Wolverton, 2008). Lax enforcement also limits this rules effectiveness, most colleges monitor this rule by simply requiring coaches to turn in a weekly log (Porto, 2003).
Coaches According to Gerdy, Ridpath, Staurowsky, and Svare (2004), Coaches are extremely influential in the lives of athletes and are often the most visible representatives of a college or university. Coupled with the fact that they the primary justification for coaches being a part of the academic community is that they are, first and foremost, teachers and educators... for a number of reasons, we have lost faith in the ‘coach as educator’ model. This is of great concern because coaches can and should be respected and successful educators.
But at a time when we should be emphasizing the role of coaches as educators, it appears they are under prepared to fill the role as evidenced in the alarmingly low percentage that possess advanced educational degrees. (p. 4)
Legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant said,
I used to go along with the ideas that football players on scholarship were ‘student-athletes,’ which is what the NCAA calls them. Meaning a student first, an athlete second. We were kidding ourselves, trying to make it more palatable to the academicians. We don’t have to say that and we shouldn’t. At the level we play, the boy is really an athlete first and a student second. (Bryant & Underwood, 1974, p. 325) At some institutions coaches may foster an anti-academic atmosphere where continuing eligibility is more important than real academic progress (Porto, 2003). I a survey of NCAA Division I student-athletes reported to their academic advisors that coaches said,
1. If you wanted an education, you should have gone to Harvard.
2. You came to school to play football. You should have stayed home if you wanted an education.
3. I know it’s finals week and you should be doing that academic stuff, but try and stay focused on basketball.
4. You’re not smart enough to make it in college, so you’re going to have to learn how to cheat. (Gerdy, 1997, p. 72) Stigma & Faculty Perception Intercollegiate athletes are not usually thought of as stigmatized because they are seen as a privileged popula tion (Simons et al., 2007). According to Hyatt (2003), the student-athletes’ perceived elite status can add to the inequity and discrimination. Several studies have found that faculty have negative perceptions regarding student-athletes’ lack of preparatio n (Engstrom et al., 1995) and embrace the ‘dumb jock’ stereotype (Knapp, Rasumussen, & Barnhart, 2001). Sedlacek and Adams-Gaston (1992) defined this prejudice against student-athletes as ‘athletism.’ For example, faculty perceived more favorably students who were not involved in athletics getting a scholarship, driving a luxury vehicle, being mentioned in the press, or even receiving a good grade in their class (Engstrom et al., 1995).
Isolation and Role Engulfment According to Parham (1993), student-athletes are involved in their own encapsulated world and are often encouraged by coaches and administrators to remain isolated (Gerdy, 1997). The time demands and athletic commitment of the student-athlete can cause a disconnection from the campus community (Adler & Adler, 1991; Carodine et al., 2001; Parham, 1993; Prentice, 1997; Sedlacek & Adams-Gaston, 1992). Studentathletes’ social experiences at the university are predominantly with other athletes (Pinkerton, Hinz, & Barrow, 1989). Hurley and Cunningham (1984) state, “Loneliness affects academic and athletic performance, poor athletic performance affects academic performance, and so on” (p. 55). Gerdy (1997) states that... a major factor in students leaving an institution is the feeling of personal isolation. Given that a number of student-athletes, particularly in the sports of football and basketball, report ‘frequent’ or ‘occasional’ feelings of isolation...
athletic departments should intensify efforts to encourage student-athletes to build relationships outside of the department.
Adler and Adler (1991) argue that competing in college sports severely narrows the student athlete’s perspective because... these young men are spending formative years sacrificing themselves to entertain and enrich others, lured by the hope of a future that is elusive at best. For other students, this kind of narrowing and intense focus may lead to a prosperous career in such fields as medicine, law, education, or business. For college athletes, however, their specialization, dedication, and abandonment of alternatives lead to their becoming finally proficient at a role that, for most, will end immediately following the conclusio n of their college eligibility. (p. 230) Wellness Although student-athletes are dealing with the same developmental issues as their non-athletic peers, (i.e. sense of purpose, independence, clarifying values, dealing with authority) (Astin, 1975; Chickering, 1969; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991, 2005), it is clear that their daily experiences, increased time commitments, and competitive pressures create a unique set of physical and psycho-social challenges (Etzel, Watson, Visek, & Maniar, 2006). These demands may put student-athletes at a greater risk for physical and psychological health problems (Etzel et al., 2006). Student-athletes represent a population that is at-risk to experience a range of distressful reactions and dysfunctional behaviors (Pinkerton et al., 1989). Research has consistently shown that student-athletes are more likely to engage in binge drinking (Brenner & Swanik, 2007) and are more likely than non-athletes to experience negative consequences from their drinking habits (Nelson & Wechsler, 2001). Student-athletes are also significantly more likely to drive while drunk, ride with intoxicated drivers, have more sexual partners, and perpetrate more sexual violence than non-athletes (Nattiv & Puffer, 1991).
Building on the holistic movement the NCAA created the NCAA CHAMPS/Life Skills program in 1994 with just 46 schools participating in the first year's orientation conference. The program became mandatory in 2000 when the NCAA rule 126.96.36.199 mandated that all Division I “... member institutions conduct NCAA CHAMPS/Life Skills (or an equivalent program) on campus ” (NCAA, 2007a, p. 203). According to the CHAMPS/Life Skills website (2006), The mission of the NCAA is to maintain intercollegiate athletics as an integral part of the campus educational program and the student-athlete as an integral part of the student body. ” With this in mind, the CHAMPS/Life Skills Program was created to support the student-athlete development initiatives of NCAA member institutions and to enhance the quality of the student-athlete exp erience within the context of higher education.
In the process of achieving this mission, the CHAMPS/Life Skills Program will:
Promote student-athletes' ownership of their academic, athletic, career, personal and community responsibilities.
• Meet the cha nging needs of student-athletes.
• Promote respect for diversity and inclusion among student-athletes.
• Assist student-athletes in identifying and applying transferable skills.
• Enhance partnerships between the NCAA, member institutions and their communities for the purpose of education.
• Foster an environment that encourages student-athletes to effectively access campus resources.
• Encourage the development of character, integrity and leadership skills.
Participating institutions in the CHAMPS/Life Skills Program are provided with instructional materials and supplemental resources which support a studentathlete's development in five areas: academics, athletics, personal development, career development and community service.
Schools have several options when implementing a program. Here are some
successful examples for each of the tenants:
• Academic Excellence—study skills sessions, programs on selecting a major, time management sessions, and workshops on talking to your professors.
• Athletics Excellence—exit interviews of students with no remaining eligibility, which are required in Division I, to address what their experiences
• Personal Development—programs about alcohol and drug use and abuse, eating disorders, stress management and conflict resolution.
• Service—volunteering time in activities such as reading to children at local schools and building houses for Habitat for Humanity. (NCAA, 2006)
It is widely held that the founding of the National Association of Academic Advisors of Athletes (N4A) represents the birth of Student-Athlete Academic Support (SAAS) programs (Kennedy, 2007). The N4A was founded in 1975, but did not host meetings outside of the annual NCAA Conference until 1993 (N4A, 2008). Prior to the N4A the majority of athletic-academic support was provided by coaches and athletic personnel (Gurney, Robinson, & Gygetakis, 1983) with the primary focus on keeping student-athletes academically eligible (Whittmer, Bostic, Phillips, & Waters, 1981). In the 1980s applied sports psychologists began working with SAAS support units, but their focus was still on performance enhancement as opposed to a holistic or total-person approach (Gould, Tammen, Murphy, & May, 1989).
Negative publicity from academic scandal, the Knight Commission report, and groundbreaking research on academic services for student-athletes moved the field forward towards a holistic total-person approach during the early 1990s (Kennedy, 2007).
In January 1991 the NCAA mandated academic counseling and tutoring for all Division I student-athletes (Meyer, 2005). Etzel, Ferrante, and Pinkney (1991, 1996) advocated a comprehensive model of student services that is a joint venture between the athletic academic staff, student affairs, and academic affairs, involving units such as academic advising, counselors, residence life, learning centers, and multicultural affairs.
Lottes (1991) proposes a service model for student-athletes composed of four main categories: