HCBE Faculty Articles

Roster Survival: An Exploratory Study of College Football Recruits in the Power Five Conferences


Jeffrey J. Fountain0000-0002-2557-6511


Peter Finley0000-0003-1947-513X

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The Sport Journal



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This study explored the retention of football players among the Power Five conference universities between 2002 and 2013. A new metric was created to evaluate roster retention beginning at the time players committed to a university as opposed to after matriculation, as is used in more common graduation-rate metrics. Results suggested a large disparity among universities between those that maintain recruits through four or more years of college football and those that have much higher roster turnover rates as well as high rates of commits never appearing on even a single roster. Additionally, the results showed the average number of games football players appeared in during the 12-year time period. The new metric developed and the results of the study are important for various stakeholders, including providing additional information for prospective college football players during the recruiting process. The metric could also provide additional data for athletic department officials when analyzing their own roster management practices as well as the past roster management practices of potential coaches. The NCAA could also benefit from this new metric as it adds information to the conversation about athletes in higher education and it provides a roster based viewpoint on the sheer number of athletes that have moved through “Big Time” college football over the years.



Peer Reviewed

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