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By David Pickle
The most recent SCORE report for Division II provides a wealth of data, most of it encouraging, but the most important figure derives from one simple question that was posed to former student-athletes: Would you recommend the Division II experience to a high school student?
A total of 93 percent of former participants surveyed said they would definitely (74 percent) or probably (19 percent) recommend the experience.
The Study of College Outcomes and Recent Experiences is administered to former student-athletes about 10 years after their initial collegiate enrollment. The study, conducted by the NCAA research staff, is one of the key proof points for demonstrating the value of college athletics.
The report, provided Thursday to a joint meeting of the Division II Presidents and Management Councils, focused on degree attainment, experience and work life, preparation for life after college, community involvement and college experience.
Some of the most interesting information was found in the section on preparation for life after college, which offered key findings about the effects of college athletics and also how former student-athletes’ satisfaction with daily life correlates with their academic identity during college.
Regarding the effects of college sports on personal skills and qualities, the SCORE report noted that about 90 percent of respondents (former student-athletes now about 30 years old) said that participation in athletics had affected them positively or very positively with regard to teamwork, work ethic and ability to take responsibility for yourself. Leadership (86 percent) and self-confidence (85 percent) also were highly endorsed. Qualities cited the least were sensitivity to the opposite sex (48 percent) and commitment to volunteerism (51 percent).
In all, 78 percent said their knowledge gained through athletics had a positive or very positive effect on their preparation for life after college while 83 percent said they were prepared by the skills or values learned from athletics.
In other words, “It’s the balanced experienced that has prepared them for what they’re doing now,” said NCAA Chief Research Scientist Tom Paskus.
The data on satisfaction with daily life were equally interesting.
Subjects were asked about 10 areas, ranging from life as a whole to marriage/relationships to standard of living. In all cases, the student-athletes who claimed a high academic identity during college scored higher – with education and standard of living, both at 13 percent, showing the greatest gaps.
“There are a lot of good things that come down the road with various aspects of their lives because of that commitment to academics,” Paskus said.
A similar inquiry about whether former student-athletes consider themselves “very happy” showed greatest response coming from those with high athletic and academic identities (68 percent).
Other key findings: