As parents have become core components of student development, colleges and universities have sought to cater to the increasing presence of parents in students’ lives. The University of Minnesota’s biannual survey of parent programs reveals a drastic increase in the percentage of institutions providing parent services. Despite this, researchers have failed to fully operationalize parent involvement during college. This has led to incompatibility between parent program implementation and empirical research. In sport, a number of programmatic interventions have been utilized with NCAA student-athletes; however, these programs have focused on education and intervention at the athlete level and have yet to account for the role of parents in student-athlete development. This is an important gap to address, as parent involvement has been linked to both student-athlete distress and success. Given the lack of an operational definition of parent involvement, especially among student-athletes, as well as the mixed findings regarding the impact of parent involvement on student-athlete outcomes, research is warranted to clearly identify key parent involvement factors that are associated with positive student-athlete development.
To fill this gap, the present research was designed to provide a systematic, evidence-based guide for parents of NCAA student-athletes that can help parents understand how to be involved in a positive and developmentally appropriate way to best enhance their student-athlete’s academic success, athletic satisfaction, well-being, and individuation. As a first step in achieving this aim, we conducted online surveys with NCAA Division I student-athletes to investigate how specific aspects of parent involvement are related to student-athletes’ development and well-being. This Parent Guide is the product of that effort and is a preliminary tool for parents of NCAA student-athletes to help them identify and use involvement strategies that can promote positive development in their student-athlete.