HCBE Faculty Articles

Academic Clustering: A Longitudinal Analysis of a Division I Football Program

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Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics

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As NCAA Division I coaches feel greater pressure to produce winning teams while ensuring that athletes remain eligible and progress toward degrees to avoid sanctions under the NCAA’s academic reform initiatives, concerns regarding the clustering of athletes into limited numbers of academic majors has increased. Academic clustering occurs when 25% or more of the members of one team share a single academic major (Case, Greer, & Brown, 1987). Recent studies have extended the analysis of clustering to include the disparate impact on white and minority football players in a single athletic conference (Fountain & Finley, 2009), as well as consideration of female basketball players throughout Division I (Paule, 2010). To date, these studies have provided a snapshot of teams for a given season. This study extends the understanding of clustering by examining one football program over a period of ten years, which allowed for greater understanding of the movement of players into and out of majors, especially the movement into a clustered major midway through their academic experience. Media guides from one BCS football program were used to track the listed majors of 349 players, from 2000 through 2009. Results indicated that players migrated into a single clustered major over time and that a significant number of touted recruits and National Football League draftees selected the clustered major. Further, players who had listed general education (University Studies) in their first media guide appearances frequently selected the clustered major.





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