A student-athlete is defined as a participant in an organized competitive sport sponsored by the NCAA and the member institution at Division I, II, or III. Student-athletes cope with challenges and pressures as they try to find a balance between being a student and an athlete. Upon entering an institution, student-athletes are given the responsibilities of managing multiple roles. First-year student-athletes are expected to meet the demands of a college student in addition to those of an athlete in a new and unknown atmosphere. (Etzel, Ferrante, & Pinkney, 1996; Parham, 1993). The transitional experiences of a first-year college student paired with playing at a higher level of skill, concerns of injury, and dealing with conflicts among teammates and coaches add stress (Adler & Adler, 1987; Etzel, Ferrante, Pinkney, 1996; Miller & Kerr, 2001; Parham, 1993). The unique challenge for many student-athletes is to find balance between these dual roles and the pressures from coaches, teammates, family and friends, the institution, and the NCAA to perform well both on and off the field of play.
Student-athletes face many of the same pressures as their non-athlete counterparts academically. Many carry a full course load that is tightly regimented by someone other than them and they are unable to drop below 12 credits otherwise risk losing their NCAA eligibility. For many student-athletes the time they put into a sport is comparable to having a 30-40 hour a week job (Brown, Glastetter-Fender & Shelton, 2000; Schroeder, 2000; Simons, Van Rheenen & Covington, 1999). A student-athletes daily schedule (when in season) may consists of attending classes, practice, weight training, visiting the trainer, looking at film, traveling for game days, and attending booster events (Broughton & Neyer, 2001; Watt & Moore III, 2001; Jolly, 2008). According to Jolly (2008), many NCAA schools offer some form of academic support but few provide significant study hall space or computing resource centers for student-athletes (p. 145).
Much of the research surrounding student-athletes has focused on various characteristics and challenges this sub-population face. For instance, topics related to identity development, career development and maturity, identity foreclosure, team development and socialization, and retirement of student-athletes (Brown, Glastetter-Fender & Shelton, 2000; Murphy, Petitpas, & Brewer,1996; Parham, 1993). In addition to alcohol and drugs, exercise, health issues, life balance and conflict, academics, gambling, eligibility, and managing injury have all been researched (Broughton & Neyer, 2001; Hill, Burch-Regan, and Yates, 2001). Some qualitative data suggest student-athletes indicate that being an athlete complicates adjustment in academic, social, and personal aspects of their lives.
In order to accomplish excellence in the athletic and academic realm, student-athletes must quickly adjust to...