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NCAA announces research grant recipients

Innovations in Research and Practice Grant Program funds projects that create tangible benefits for college athletes’ mental health

Six teams of researchers will receive a total of $100,000 through the NCAA Innovations in Research and Practice Grant Program, which funds research aimed at benefitting college athletes’ psychosocial well-being and mental health.

The projects, chosen from a field of 94 applicants, will offer insight into such topics as sexual assault prevention and how to help graduating student-athletes transition from competitive training to healthy, physically active lifestyles.

The external review panel that selected the six research teams was composed of NCAA Research Committee members, practitioners, current student-athletes and scholars representing all three NCAA divisions.

“I see opportunities to directly help student-athletes with some of the most pressing issues they’re facing these days,” said R. Scott Kretchmar, a professor of exercise and sport science at Pennsylvania State University and chair of the review panel. “A number of the issues addressed have to do with the kind of pressures athletes face between their academic work and their athletic responsibilities.”

For these grants, the committee sought projects aimed at creating programming that can benefit college athletes at a range of member schools. The committee hopes the research will lead to programs that other colleges and universities can adopt for use on their campuses or adapt to fit their local needs. Grants ranged from $10,000 to $25,000 and recipients will present their work in January at the 2016 NCAA Convention in San Antonio, Texas.

This is the second year of the NCAA Innovations in Research and Practice Grant Program. The first recipients presented their findings in January at the NCAA Convention outside Washington, D.C. Among other results produced from that first year of research, those grant recipients developed videos that help student-athletes talk more openly about mental health issues and created best practices for schools to use when advising parents on how much to get involved in their children’s college athletics careers.

“If we can repeat the success we had this last year,” Kretchmar said, “I would say we would be very pleased.”

These projects received funding through the 2015 NCAA Innovations in Research and Practice Grant Program:


Monmouth University

Topic: Sexual assault prevention strategies tailored for student-athletes.

Researchers: Marilyn McNeil, Ph.D., Vice-President and Director of Athletics, Monmouth University; Patrick Murray, Director, Monmouth University Polling Institute, Monmouth University

Ohio Wesleyan University

Topic: Assessing how team culture can lead to hazing.

Researchers: Jay Martin, Ph.D., Head Coach, Men’s Soccer, Professor of Physical Education, Ohio Wesleyan University; Simon Clements, Director, Behavioral Training and Tools, EXACT Sports

Springfield College

Topic: Helping student-athletes transfer on-field skills into the career domain.

Researchers: Judy L. Van Raalte, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Springfield College; Albert J. Petitpas, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Springfield College; Britton W. Brewer, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Springfield College

University of Missouri, Columbia

Topic: Leadership development among black male student-athletes.

Recipients: Ty-Ron Douglas, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Educational, Leadership & Policy Analysis, University of Missouri; Kim Lambert, Associate Athletic Director, Mizzou Athletics; Pat A. Ivey, Ph.D., Associate Athletics Director, Mizzou Athletics

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Topic: Development of a physical activity transition program for former college student-athletes.

Researchers: Erin J. Reifsteck, Ph.D., Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Institute to Promote Athlete Health and Wellness, University of North Carolina at Greensboro; Diane L. Gill, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Kinesiology, University of North Carolina at Greensboro;

DeAnne D. Brooks, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Kinesiology, Salem College

University of Virginia

Topic: Using mobile technology to promote healthy student-athlete identity development.

Researchers: Paul C. Harris, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia; Brian Pusser, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Higher Education, University of Virginia; Phil Gates, Life Skills Director, Athletics Department, University of Virginia; Jim Bauman, Ph.D., Sport Psychologist, Athletics Department, University of Virginia

For project titles and abstracts, visit here.

Members of the external review panel, which chose the grant recipients:

  • Panel chair R. Scott Kretchmar, professor, Pennsylvania State University
  • AJ Akinribade, student-athlete, Wabash College
  • Chris Carr, sport and performance psychologist, St. Vincent Sports Performance
  • Ross Flowers, performance sport psychologist, Giles Consulting Group
  • D. Scott Gines, vice president for intercollegiate athletics and campus recreation, University of Texas A&M-Kingsville
  • Hayley Good, student-athlete, University of Indianapolis
  • Burgwell Howard, assistant vice president for student engagement, Northwestern University
  • Lacey John, assistant director of community relations, University of Arizona
  • Nyaka Niilampti, assistant professor and faculty athletics representative, Queens University of Charlotte
  • Ludmilla “Millie” Wells, associate professor and faculty athletics representative, Florida Gulf Coast University