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Does athletics enhance the Division III college experience?

Nearly one-quarter of students who attend Division III colleges participate in NCAA athletics. An important part of the mission of the division is to ensure that these student-athletes have a comprehensive college experience, engage fully in college life and develop a strong connection and sense of belonging to the overall campus community.

In the NCAA’s GOALS study, Division III student-athletes overwhelmingly reported that they see themselves as part of the campus community (91%) and that athletics participation has helped to provide them with a sense of connection to the campus (94%). Division III student-athletes also report a stronger connection to the campus community than their non-athlete peers.

Beyond fulfilling the mission of Division III athletics, why is ensuring student-athletes feel a sense of connection to the campus important? It tends to relate to other aspects of a student-athlete’s time on campus, including academic, athletic and social experiences. Those student-athletes who report a greater sense of connection to the campus also are more likely to report:

  • Higher levels of academic motivation;
  • Greater satisfaction with the overall academic experience; (See figure below)
  • Feelings that the team environment is inclusive and accepting of different cultures and backgrounds;
  • Seeing their coaches as ethical leaders.

Note: Student-athlete/Non-athlete comparison data source: University of California, Los Angeles’ Higher Education Research Institute, part of the Cooperative Institutional Research Program.

Download a PDF copy of this Extra Point: Does Athletics Enhance the Division III College Experience?

(Published April 2014)