Our interviews with parents, coaches, administrators, and student-athletes across NCAA Divisions underscore ten desired outcomes for student-athletes:
1. Student-Athlete Excellence
Nearly all key NCAA stakeholders discussed “excellence” on and off the playing field as the primary mission of working with student-athletes. Importantly, coaches, administrators, and parents spoke directly about the link between excellence in athletics and excellence in life, highlighting that both are directly impacted by positive parent involvement.
What is our mission? Excellence in the classroom, and excellence on the fields of play … therefore, we are trying to improve the student-athlete’s experience, the wellness aspect, the mental healthiness piece, and their experience while they are in college. I feel parent education will be one more tool in the tool kit to advance our mission.
– Division II Athletics Administrator
2. Preparation for Life After Sport
Stakeholders noted that striving to show excellence yields a readiness for life after intercollegiate athletics. Indeed, many coaches and administrators express a desire to create an environment that helps student-athletes prepare for the real world. These individuals also share a common philosophy that participation in intercollegiate sport positively impacts and transfers valuable skills to the lives of young adults.
I believe athletics teaches you all the lessons you cannot get in the classroom — effective communication, discipline, teamwork – (That’s what) I love about college athletics, balancing life is still huge for these young men because for (wrestlers) there is no professional sport and so they have to have that degree and they have to have that balance and be prepared for life after college athletics.
– Division I Head Coach, Wrestling
3. Transition to Adulthood
Just as the transition to college is challenging for many student-athletes, so too is the transition out of college. In light of this, key stakeholders speak pointedly about the goal of producing self-sufficient adults capable of entering the professional, adult world after their time on campus.
Our goal in the four or five years we have them is to have them go from living at home with their parents to becoming educated, helping them learn to make the right choices. At the end of this, even if their parents love them, they don’t want them coming back and living on the couch … it’s our job to transition them from a young adult living with (parents) to a young adult who is capable of excelling and living on their own.
– Division I Head Coach, Women’s Softball
Another desired outcome touched on by key NCAA stakeholders is independence. Parents, coaches, and administrators share the common goal of moving student-athletes toward self- sufficiency, responsibility, and awareness, and feel this process is hindered when parents do not “let go” of their children during the transition to college.
More positive (parent) involvement during the college years could make the student-athlete more independent and better prepared to deal with their professional experiences.
– Division III, Senior Women’s Administrator
Confidence is an outcome that key stakeholders feel is very important for student-athletes ultimate success. Indeed, administrators, coaches, and parents note the impact of positive parent involvement on student-athletes’ abilities to display confidence on and off the playing field, as well as during and after their playing careers.
I think (student-athletes) stop always going to talk to Mom and Dad about not getting enough playing time. It becomes, “I am going to just go talk to Coach about (it)”. I think they start to get a lot more confidence from that.
– Division I Head Coach, Women’s Volleyball
NCAA Coaches and administrators understand the nature of intercollegiate athletics and widely acknowledge that it can become all-consuming at times. In light of this, most key stakeholders feel that parents who remain positively involved are more aware of the demands on their student-athletes. This awareness among parents helps student-athletes strike a balance in their academic, social, and athletic lives without feeling pressure from external sources to succeed in sport.
The more you educate and the more you try and reach parents about the do’s or don’ts, and the rules, and what a student-athlete really needs and what really they don’t need — I cannot see that being anything but extremely helpful and positive.
– Division III Assistant Coach, Women’s Basketball
7. Family Synergy
A desired student-athlete outcome that coaches, administrators, and parents believe to be important is family synergy. Through positive parent involvement, student-athletes feel more supported, and thus have better experiences, more effective communication, and enhanced relationships with their parents.
There is more synergy between parents and the athlete when (parents) understand their role and they are on the same page (as us).
– Division I Assistant Coach, Men’s Basketball
8. Enhanced Performance
In addition to the multiple individual- and family-level outcomes desired by coaches and administrators, intercollegiate athletics is a results-oriented endeavor. Therefore, one of the most desired student-athlete outcomes is enhanced performance. Importantly, key stakeholders agree that positive parent involvement is a key factor in student-athletes’ competitive performance.
Ultimately it comes down to the performance of the student-athlete, (and) the development and the mental maturation of the student-athlete … I think if there is more understanding between a parent and a player, there is more developing taking place and more maturity being learned. So, I think there is lot to be gained from (positive parent involvement).
– Division I Head Coach, Men’s Baseball
9. Less Pressure
One of the outcomes stressed most by coaches and administrators (but not parents) is limiting the pressure student-athletes feel to excel in sport. Through more positive parent involvement, these key NCAA stakeholders feel that the pressure perceived by student-athletes can be lessened.
I think the biggest advantage would be taking away extra pressure from our student-athletes … Parents are rarely patient and are used to having total control and are used to having their kid have total focus on his or her sport and it just doesn’t work that way in college.
– Division I Head Coach, Women’s Golf
The final student-athlete outcome discussed by participants is the creation of a more enjoyable environment for student-athletes. Coaches and administrators suggest that parents play a large role in making the student-athlete experience more enjoyable and argue that parents are more likely to facilitate enjoyment when they are more educated and aware of their impact on the life of their student-athlete.
Athletically, academically, overall just their experience with college would be better if the parents were more educated and more appropriately involved.
– Division II Head Coach, Men’s Golf
Connecting these desired student-athlete outcomes with long-term student-athlete development
These ten desired outcomes impact student athletes’ perceptions of their development in four important areas: Academic self-efficacy, athletic satisfaction, well-being, and individuation.