Data from a national survey of college basketball players are analyzed to identify conditions that cause student athlete role conflict and the coping mechanisms used to make this conflict more manageable. NCAA division was found to be strongly related to role conflict regardless of the measure used. Gender was also found to have an impact. Role conflict was also related to scholarship status, the number of hours athletes perceive they must devote to basketball, and whether they believe their coaches make unreasonable demands on their time and energy. It was also found that athletes who ranked low in their high school graduating class and had sought help from an academic counselor were more likely than others to deal with role conflict by taking various academic shortcuts. One final conclusion is that the vast majority of college athletes, with the exception of Division I males, have little problem reconciling their roles as athletes and students.
The authors would like to thank the University of New Haven and the U.S. Dept. of Education for helping to fund this study, Judith Tonelli (Center for Athletes’ Rights and Education) and Jack Larocco (U. of New Haven) for their assistance in coding and preparing the data, colleagues at other universities who helped gather the data, and the college coaches who in many instances helped us gain access to players on their teams.
Direct all correspondence to Allen L. Sack, Dept. of Sociology, University of New Haven, West Haven, CT 06516.