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Athletes in Revenue Generating Sports Lack Access to Academic Support

Most of the high-impact educational practices (HIP) that improve students’ academic outcomes are inaccessible to a majority of student athletes, a new study conducted by the University of Kansas researchers has found.

Farah Ishaq and co-author Jordan Bass, who researched the implementation of HIPs and barriers to student-athletes in accessing them, identified a disconnect between athletic departments and academic units, time constraints and coaches not supporting participation as major reasons for the rare student athlete access.

“Coaches are primarily interested in the athletic success of their student-athletes,” Ishaq said in a statement. “I was able to see a student-athlete’s experiences were not the same as their peers. There were a lot of things within HIPs that the general student population could take that were not as easy for student-athletes.”

Usually, such practices include first-year seminars and experiences, common intellectual experiences, learning communities, writing-intensive courses, collaborative assignments and projects, undergraduate research, diversity/global learning, service or community-based learning, internships and capstone courses and projects.

The researchers interviewed more than a dozen athletic department and administration officials at six universities. They found many other barriers to accessing HIPs as well, like the kind of sport the athlete plays and the time of year that sport season happens. Athletes in revenue-generating sports face the greatest challenge in taking part in HIPs.

To better the academic outcomes of student-athletes and prevent academic cheating scandals, the researchers suggested increasing collaboration between athletic and academic units handling HIPs in the future, standardizing reporting lines from athletics to academics, and making opportunities such as study abroad more accessible in shorter terms.

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