Innovations Grant

Student-Athlete Well-Being Scale

As sport psychology and mental health professionals are becoming members of athletic department medical teams, it is important to consider efficient and effective ways to screen student-athletes for psychological distress and monitor the resulting progress for those who receive psychological services. The purpose of this project is to create a culturally and developmentally appropriate measure for college student-athletes that has the capacity to serve as both a screening and treatment outcome measure. The project consisted of three phases that included student-athlete and athletic staff input on content domains, follow-up feedback on the resulting measure, and an initial psychometric evaluation.

Resilience for the Rocky Road: Supporting First-Year Student-Athletes in Their Transition to College

The transition from high school to college brings many challenges, yet also presents the opportunity for personal growth and development. Currently, several NCAA institutions offer programming to aid student-athletes in this transition. At present, these programs vary considerably among institutions and little data to evaluate effectiveness have been collected. Because of the variation between organizations, we created and led in-person and online resilience-based educational programs with a specific focus on developing resilience-based skills at two different universities. The differences between the online and in-person sections in terms of student-athlete outcomes were negligible. Overall, student-athletes indicated that engaging in the program was beneficial for their transition to college and for their future collegiate careers, that they had taken specific steps to develop several resilience-based skills, and over 90% suggested future freshman student-athletes be allowed to engage in the program.

Social Media Literacy for Student-Athletes

There is currently no standardized social media training program available for college student-athletes. Social media training is important because consequences of posting unsuitable content may include loss of reputation, eligibility, scholarships, and future career prospects. The purpose of this project was to develop and test an online social media literacy program that emphasizes showcasing one’s unique strengths, assessing message credibility for active online citizenship, enriching sport performance, and managing cyberbullying. Based on recommendations from recent research, the program was designed to cultivate responsible social media attitudes and use.

Using Peer Podcasts to Develop and Strengthen Resilience in Student-Athletes

Athletes face challenges when transitioning into the rigor of college academics and athletics, as well as injuries, redshirting, deselection, the evolving athlete identity and moving beyond sports. An innovative program using podcasts addressed these issues. Interviews with current and former student-athletes relayed their challenges but focused on their resilience and how a growth mindset evolved due to the struggles and challenges brought forth by college athletics. Insights regarding both challenges and strengths are the foundation of the peer podcasts: Athletes Interrupted: Developing and Strengthening Resilience in Student-Athletes (DSR). Podcasts were created and recorded on-campus by students and faculty. A blueprint to guide NCAA member institutions on how to create, produce and utilize resilience-building podcasts for student-athletes is available.

University Orientation Class for International Student-Athletes

International students represent an ever-growing population on collegiate campuses, and the student-athlete body is no exception. Unfortunately, many international student-athletes arrive on American campuses in sporting and academic environments where little support is provided for them. Therefore, using focus groups of international student-athletes and their coaches, this project developed and delivered an academic orientation class specifically for international student-athletes. A “How To” guide was created to assist those at other college campuses interested in replicating the program.

Career Readiness Challenge

The ability for student-athletes to translate competencies learned through athletic participation into real-world applications outside of the athletics context is as a high-impact practice. However, athletic and academic responsibilities may limit the student-athlete’s ability to engage in traditional career service activities. The objective of this project was to develop the “Career Readiness Challenge” (CRC); a career development program that utilizes game mechanics and a blended instructional platform to increase motivation and enhance attitudes towards career planning. The research provides insight into how perceptions of career readiness competencies and attitudes toward career planning relate to the students’ athletic experiences and their identity.

NCAA awards $100,000 in research grants

Five research teams will receive a total of $100,000 through the NCAA Innovations in Research and Practice Grant Program, designed to enhance college athletes’ psychosocial well-being and mental health.

NCAA awards $100,000 in grants to 6 research teams

Six research teams will receive a total of $100,000 through the NCAA Innovations in Research and Practice Grant Program, designed to enhance college athletes’ psychosocial well-being and mental health.

The Development and Evaluation of a Web-Based Program Empowering NCAA Coaches to Effectively Communicate with Student-Athletes of Concern and Make Mental Health Referrals: A Pilot Study

This project sought to address the issue of psychological well-being among student-athletes by training coaches to recognize mental health concerns and make early referrals. Coaches completed six web-based modules on the broad topics of (1) rapport building, (2) help-seeking behaviors, and (3) the referral process. Content built upon material presented online via the NCAA Sport Science Institute. Evaluation procedures included pre- and post-training questionnaires measuring coaches’ knowledge of and ability to apply module content. Additionally, post-training focus groups were conducted. Potential implications are the adoption of content into coaching education, and its dissemination to other NCAA institutions.

Enhancing Financial Literacy Among Student-Athletes

The purpose of this study was to first determine how student-athletes at two NCAA institutions budget and spend their money, and discovered their preferred modes of receiving financial education. Using data collected from a variety of methods, a pilot financial literacy education program geared specifically for student-athletes was developed. The pilot program was implemented at both institutions, and evaluated to measure students’ financial literacy after participation in the pilot. The program design can be adapted to reach student-athletes participating at institutions in any NCAA division.


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