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Cheryl Keen


Eligibility requirements, the pressure to remain eligible at all costs, and demanding time schedules are high stakes issues that affect the National Colligate Athletic Association (NCAA) student-athletes. A gap in research existed on whether college student-athletes’ demographics and engagement predicts their academic success. The purpose of this quantitative research was to determine the extent to which engagement and demographic factors predict student-athletes’ academic success, as measured by a self-reported grade of B or higher in NCAA first-year student-athletes. This study was influenced by Astin’s student involvement theory and Kuh’s concept of engagement. The research question guiding this study addressed the extent to which academic and cocurricular engagement, race, sport played, and gender predict NCAA student-athletes’ academic success. Quantitative data were collected from the 2018 National Survey of Student Engagement. The sample analyzed included 1,985 student-athletes. Logistic regression analysis was used to find that males, wrestlers, football players, and Black or African American student-athletes were less likely to achieve academic success, whereas females, tennis players, and both White and Asian student-athletes were more likely to achieve academic success than their peers. Findings were significant at the .05 level, but the variance explained by the models was less than 10%, which implies limited practical significance. Time spent on cocurricular activities and time spent preparing for class did not predict academic success. The findings of this study may be used by the NCAA and higher education institutions to help understand student-athletes’ behaviors and the implications for supporting academic success.

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