The 2013 substance use study is the eighth of its kind the NCAA has conducted since 1985. The initial National Study of Substance Use Habits of College Student-Athletes in 1985 and two subsequent replications were completed for the NCAA by researchers at Michigan State University.
All NCAA member institutions are asked to participate. The sampling plan achieves an appropriate representation of all NCAA student-athletes while minimizing burden to institutions by asking that all student-athletes on no more than three teams be surveyed on any campus. The teams surveyed are determined by a computer-generated random draw. Approximately 15 percent of teams within each NCAA championship sport are asked to participate.
As with many other NCAA research efforts, the institution’s faculty athletics representative (FAR) administers the survey to a team in a classroom setting. No identifying information about the student-athletes or the institution is collected.
It is important to note that even with measures to ensure anonymity, self-reported data of this kind can be problematic due to the sensitive nature of the issues. Therefore, absolute levels of use might be underestimated in a study such as this. However, broad trends in use patterns across years and among types of drugs have shown to be a valid use of these data.