NCAA Announces $100,000 in Research Grants

A year ago, the NCAA was taking heat over its canceling of the Scholarly Colloquium, a decision that some critics saw as a response to the unfavorable research that professors had presented about the association.

The association said it had pulled the plug on the conference and its associated scholarly publication, the Journal of Intercollegiate Sport, because of poor attendance, a lack of profitability of the journal, and a failure to influence public policy. The spending—which had totaled some $1.2-million over six years, it said—would be redirected into “targeted research” that member colleges wanted.

This week the association announced plans to distribute $100,000 in grants this year to support research and data-driven pilot programs that “enhance student-athlete well-being and mental health.”

In its call for proposals, the NCAA said potential topics might include “managing transitions (e.g., from recruit to first-year student; transferring between universities; adapting from youth sports to college sports environment; developing independence from parents), identity development, stress management, substance use, bystander intervention, cultivating healthy relationships, career exploration, and sport exit strategies.”

Faculty leaders who worked closely on the Scholarly Colloquium found it notable that neither the business practices nor the governance of college sports were included in what the NCAA will probably finance.

“College athletes’ rights, due process, and the impact of the coaching carousel on players left behind are just some of the things not likely to meet the criteria for selection under the description for the grant,” Ellen J. Staurowsky, a professor of sport management at Drexel University, said in an email. “There is an appearance that the NCAA’s stated ‘commitment to making policy decisions based on quality research’ extends to certain areas of the college sport enterprise but not to others.”

Recipients of the grants, of up to $50,000 each, will be invited to present their findings at next year’s NCAA convention, in Washington.

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