Study: How Athletes Identify Influences GPA

June 24, 2016

College athletes who identify more strongly with an athletic, rather than academic, identity have lower grade point averages, according to a new study published this month in Social Science Quarterly.

The researchers, from the University of Texas at Dallas, examined data from the National Collegiate Athletic Association's GOALS survey, in which 21,000 athletes across all three NCAA divisions were surveyed in 2006. They found that students who see themselves more as athletes than academics had lower GPAs than those who saw themselves as students or academics first. GPAs are "directly influenced by their athletic versus academic identity, the athletic context including the coach's influence, and the seriousness with which they view academics," the researchers wrote.

Athletes who reported that their coaches discouraged them from certain majors had lower grade point averages. Division I athletes were more likely to focus more on athletics than their counterparts in the less competitive Divisions II and III.

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