The academic socialization and professional sport expectations of college athletes



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Objective: In this dissertation the differences between NCAA athletes and other college students who participate in sports at various levels (i.e., club sports and intramural) were examined. The effects of different types of academic socialization received and the primary source of these messages on grade point average and professional sport expectations were also studied. The weekly hours spent on school and sports during the season and offseason were tested as potential mediators of the relationship between professional sport expectations and grade point average. Method: The sample consisted of 448 college students (NCAA = 122, Club = 104, Intramural = 119, No Sport = 103) ranging from age 18-25. Participants self-reported GPA, professional sport expectations, athletic identity, weekly time spent on school/sports during the season/offseason, academic attainment aspirations/expectations, academic involvement, educational encouragement, the value of education, and most influential socializer of academic messages. Results: NCAA athletes reported greater academic involvement by others, but had lower GPAs than the other students. They also reported academic counselors/mentors and parents/family as their two primary socializers, while students from the other groups indicated parents/family as their only primary source of socialization, as they relied on themselves second most. Also, weekly time spent on sports during the offseason was found to significantly mediate the negative relationship between professional sport expectations and grade point average. Conclusions: The academic experience of NCAA athletes is different from all other students on campus. Collaborating with others on campus to help athletes explore other avenues for future success can lead to less emphasis on playing a professional sport and more academic success. This would be beneficial considering so few NCAA athletes end up having successful pro sport careers.