NCAA News Archive - 2007

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Research reveals more about athletes' college choice

May 7, 2007 1:01:15 AM

By Gary T. Brown
The NCAA News

Though the Division II Presidents Council covered the nuts and bolts of its agenda April 26, the presidents gathered for an evening session April 25 to discuss more strategic items, including the Division II positioning platform and the community-engagement initiative.

Members also received an update on the GOALS study (Growth Opportunities, Aspirations and Learning of Students in college), which surveyed almost 21,000 current student-athletes about their college experience. The presidents saw a first cut of the research in January, including data on overall satisfaction, integration and choice of major, but because the study is so extensive, NCAA researchers are able to continually mine fresh angles.

At the April 25 meeting, the Division II presidents heard about the reasons student-athletes cited for attending college and whether they would make the same decision if they had it to do over.

Between two-thirds and three-fourths of Division II student-athletes in baseball, football and men’s and women’s basketball cited athletics as their primary reason for choosing their current institution. Those percentages are comparable or higher than in Division I.

While that was good news to the presidents, especially in light of a financial study they have commissioned to determine the value of Division II’s partial scholarship model, they were less enthusiastic about a GOALS finding that indicated only half of the respondents would attend their current institution if they were to start their college career over.

The range of response varied from 57 percent in women’s sports other than basketball who said they would attend the same institution to only 44 percent in women’s basketball. Overall, the Division II responses aligned with those in Divisions I and III. The highest commitment (69 percent) came from Division III women’s sports other than basketball.

The presidents were puzzled that the finding was not more affirming, since an earlier Web-based survey of campus and conference student-athlete advisory committee members revealed that more than 90 percent would recommend the Division II experience to a prospective student-athlete.

It may have something to do with the student-athlete/coach relationship, since another GOALS finding indicated similar percentages of respondents said they would not have attended the same school had there been a different coach recruiting them. The Division II presidents also asked the research staff to explore whether responses varied among classes.

Other new findings in the GOALS study include:

  • More than 80 percent of student-athlete respondents in all divisions reported they had participated in community-outreach projects (48 percent of Division II respondents said their coach required it).
  • More than two-thirds of Division II respondents in all sports said their student body peers treat them more as athletes than as students. Also, more than half said they were treated favorably because of their athlete status. About one-third felt they were discriminated against because of their athlete status.
  • Despite a perception that they are treated differently, more than 80 percent in Division II said athletics has had a positive impact on their social lives (many cite friendships with teammates).
  • Student-athletes in only two Division II sports (baseball and football) reported spending more hours per week on athletics activities than academic pursuits.

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