The transition from high school to college is a salient ecological shift in emerging adults’ lives that has important implications for shaping student’s success and well-being. This process is even more complex for student-athletes, who perceive a tremendous amount of pressure to succeed athletically and academically. For instance, researchers have found that many college student-athletes experience academic difficulties due to a lack of time and energy associated with their sport involvement. Student-athletes are also at a greater risk than non-athletes to experience drug and alcohol abuse and social anxiety. Moreover, student-athletes are more likely to engage in other risky behaviors and experience higher levels of depression than their non-athlete peers.
Because parents continue to play an important supportive role for athletes during emerging adulthood, it is surprising that researchers have yet to fully explore the impact of parent involvement on student-athlete development during the college transition. The maintenance of connections to parents during emerging adulthood, however, poses challenges for renegotiating the type and level of parent involvement during this developmental stage. Seminal theories of college student development placed parents at the periphery of socialization influences; however, in line with cultural and demographic shifts that emphasize active parenting throughout the transition to adulthood, recent theories of college student development have increasingly accounted for the role of parents in student development. Despite this theoretical redefinition of the parental role, empirical work has yet to operationalize key parent involvement factors or identify links between parent involvement and student outcomes, especially among NCAA student-athletes.