You are here

The 2006 GOALS and SCORE Studies

The NCAA in the mid-2000s developed two significant studies to help inform the discussion surrounding the experiences of student-athletes. One focuses on recent classes of athletes, while the other checks in with former players further removed from their competitive days. Together, they offer views into the aspirations, experiences and outcomes of nearly 30,000 men and women who participated in Divisions I, II or III intercollegiate athletics.

The first iteration of the Growth, Opportunities, Aspirations and Learning of Students in college (GOALS) study queried student-athletes from all three NCAA divisions who were participating in athletics in the 2005-06 academic year. Students from about 2,000 teams at more than 1,000 NCAA schools were asked to participate. Responses were collected from teams at 627 institutions (61 percent of the total NCAA membership), and in all, 20,925 student-athletes provided input. Questions probed students’ satisfaction with their athletics, academic and social experiences while in college, as well as their health and well-being.

The Study of College Outcomes and Recent Experiences (SCORE) is a longitudinal examination of student-athletes who graduated from high school in 1994, many of whom were scholarship athletes at Divisions I or II schools. The survey went to 28,079 former student-athletes, 8,529 (30.4 percent) of which responded.

Combined, the GOALS and SCORE studies offer a wealth of information about:

  • The aspirations prospective students have about participating in college sports (their reasons for choosing a school, their academic goals and expectations about what life as a student-athlete will be like),
  • The experiences they have as student-athletes (how athletics affects their choice of major, how being an athlete affects their academic engagement, and how athletics time commitments affect their ability to experience all a campus has to offer), and
  • The outcomes from those experiences (how being an athlete affects their preparation for life after college).

Some of the findings are intuitive, such as student-athletes’ academic engagement being related to whether they define themselves more as student or athlete. But other findings may be surprising, such as student-athlete graduation rates being higher than even previous academic studies have shown, or that athletics participation doesn’t restrict choice of academic major as much as some might think.

The goal of both studies is to provide an objective, data-based examination of the impacts of college sports participation on college students, not only to know more about what the student-athlete experience has been in the immediate and not-too-distant past, but also to learn more about how to improve it in the future.