The Deleterious Effects of NCAA Division I Programs: A Comparison of the Current Activities of Student-Athletes of Two Different Division Schools Through the Prism of the Wellness Paradigm

Andreas Stamatis, Zacharias Papadakis


The majority of American student-athletes participate in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) programs. Those programs are categorized into three different Divisions, which demonstrate differences in athletic scholarship support, level of competition, and philosophy. Among them, Division III (DIII) institutions account for the highest percentage of schools who play collegiate sports, followed by Division I (DI). Recent events and evidence on depression and suicide, anxiety, disordered eating and eating disorders, and substance use and abuse have raised awareness on mental health difficulties in this specific population of young adults. The purpose of this study is to add to the current state of knowledge by investigating whether there are differences in the promotion of a wellness lifestyle between a DI and a DIII university. Using an online interview created by Côté, Ericcson, and Law (2005) all student athletes from both Rice University (DI) and State University of New York (SUNY) at Plattsburgh (DIII) were recruited via email. Sixty-three participated from Rice and 90 from SUNY Plattsburgh. The response rate was 17% and 29%, respectively. Descriptive statistics and parametric tests were used in data analysis. By comparing these two case studies, differences with statistical significance were found in the current activities of sleeping, socializing, school/career, and studying. These differences infer that a DIII school may be promoting a wellness lifestyle more than a DI school. Possible limitations are the use of unequal samples and self-reported data. Future research on comparing more cases of different Division schools is recommended.

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International Research in Higher Education  ISSN 2380-9183 (Print)  ISSN 2380-9205 (Online)

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