Studying the determinants of student-athlete grade point average: the roles of identity, context, and academic interests

Kurt J. Beron, Alex R. Piquero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The relationship between academic achievement, especially grade point average (GPA), and college athletics is often focused on "big-time" (National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I (NCAA DI)) colleges. This study examines athletic and academic identity correlates with student-athlete (SA) GPA for not only DI but also DII and DIII SAs, separately by sex. Methods: The GPAs of over 19,000 SAs across divisions are analyzed using OLS with covariates including athletic and academic indicators. The analysis pools SAs, separates by division, and separates by division and sex. Additional analyses were conducted for the revenue-producing sports. Results: SAs' GPA is directly influenced by their athletic versus academic identity, the athletic context including the coach's influence, and the seriousness with which they view academics. Cross-equation joint testing found no statistical differences in athletic or academic identity across division and sex. Conclusions: Two beliefs are widely presumed: that DI SAs' focus on athletics more than SAs in the "less competitive" divisions leads them to worse academic outcomes, and that the athletic identity of male SAs has a greater impact on academic performance than female SAs. Our results provide no evidence for either presumption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-160
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes

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