Study Takes Measure of College Athletes

By Bower, Brucs | Science News, December 3, 1988 | Go to article overview
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Study Takes Measure of College Athletes

Bower, Brucs, Science News

Study takes measure of college athletes

The first nationwide survey of college athletes, including those in big-time football and basketball programs, provides both encouraging and disturbing news about these young men and women. The $1.75 million study was commissioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Presidents Commission.

"There are no great surprises in the results," Martin A. Massengale, chair of the NCAA group and chancellor of the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, told a press conference this week in Washington, D.C. "But this is truly a landmark study for college athletics and provides the first national data on student athletes."

Investigators, directed by psychologist Robert J. Rossi of the American Institutes for Research (AIR) in Palo Alto, Calif., administered questionnaires earlier this year to 4,083 students at 42 NCAA Division I colleges and universities, which include the highest-level athletic programs. Students and institutions were chosen randomly.

College athletes included football players, men's and women's basketball players, men and women with athletic grants in other sports, and men and women playing in other sports without athletic grants. The researchers also surveyed students involved in time-consuming extracurricular activities other than intercollegiate athletics, such as band, drama, student newspaper or campus workstudy programs.

Data are not yet available for students uninvolved in demanding extracurricular activities or for a separate sample of black students participating in no such activities.

The study finds some enocuraging similarities between athletes and "other extracurricular" students. Both groups report spending about the same number of hours per week in class, preparing for class and in social activities. The two groups are, in general, equally satisfied with their academic performance.

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