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This archive is the repository for publicly available data from NCAA member institutions and their student-athletes


The GOALS Study Resources

Overview Statement to me

The 2006 Growth, Opportunity, Aspirations and Learning of Students in College (GOALS) study collected data on the experiences of student-athletes across all sports and NCAA divisions. It also provides objective and attitudinal data from student-athletes on possible academic and social trade-offs and sacrifices they have made in order to participate in collegiate athletics.

The GOALS study surveyed 19,786 student-athletes representing all three divisions and 620 NCAA institutions. Respondents provided information on important topics regarding their lives as student-athletes that included: Academic engagement and success, athletics experiences, social experiences and integration, career aspirations, physical and mental health and well-being, campus and team climate, and time commitments. It is currently the only study in the archive that tracks student-athlete data at the individual-level of analysis.

Current Projects

The GOALS study has initially been released as a restricted-access data collection. The initial wave of researchers who received the data are currently producing new research. Below are brief summaries of these projects. All project titles are working titles.


Kevin Antshel (Syracuse University)

Laura VanderDrift (Syracuse University)

Jeffrey Pauline (Syracuse University)

Description of Research:


Attention deficit / hyperactivity (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder defined by persistent and impairing symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity and inattention. Despite two studies indicating elevated ADHD prevalence rates in college student athletes, very little is known presently about ADHD in college student athletes. Given this, we sought to complete a preliminary investigation using a large existing data source, the 2006 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Growth, Opportunities, Aspirations and Learning of Students in College (GOALS) study. The GOALS project did not assess for ADHD, yet did inquire about the frequency of inattentive symptoms in college student athletes. Nonetheless, given the significant dearth of information presently available about ADHD in college student athletes, we believe that the inattention question may provide us information regarding what ADHD might look like in college student athletes and provide us with hypotheses to explore in subsequent studies.


Phase one of our GOALS study was a descriptive study exploring the relationship between high levels of inattention and functional academic outcomes in college student athletes. Phase two of our GOALS study investigated the mediators of the relationship between high levels of inattention and functional academic outcomes. To test phase two, we conducted moderated mediation analyses in which we examined the indirect effect of inattention on utilizing academic services through impairment, moderated by athletic identity.


Just over 7.4% of the student athletes reported having difficulty concentrating the majority of the time (15+ days in the previous month). Student athletes most likely to report significant inattention were females, non-Caucasians, sophomores, those on full athletic scholarship, those more likely to play their sport professionally, those with lower GPAs and those diagnosed or treated for an emotional or psychological disorder while in college. Moderated mediation analyses revealed that there was a significant indirect effect between experiencing the highest level of inattention and service utilization through impairment, moderated by identity (F(4, 14738) = 184.28, p < .001, R2 = .22).


Athletic / academic identity acts as a mediator of the relationship between high levels of inattention and the utilization of academic resources on campus. If the student athlete that is experiencing high levels of inattentive symptoms identifies more as a student, impairment is likely to prompt academic service use. However, if the student athlete identifies more as an athlete, academic impairment is less likely to lead to utilization of campus academic resources. For those student athletes that identify more as an athlete, a retroactive, 'wait-to-fail' approach may be present. For those student athletes that identify more as a student, a more proactive approach seems likely.


Kurt Beron (University of Texas-Dallas)

Alex Piquero (University of Texas-Dallas)

Research Papers

Studying the Determinants of Student-Athlete Grade Point Average: The Roles of Identity, Context, and Academic Interests

Description of Research:

The relationship between collegiate athletics and academic achievement has been a source of persistent discussion for years. Throughout most of this research however, the focus has been on the high-profile (revenue-producing) sports of football and basketball in the NCAA Division I. Published research focusing on academics and athletics across the other two divisions – by themselves and in comparison to DI – as well as comparisons with the non-revenue-producing sports, is very under-developed. In addition to this line of work, but also very much related, is the relationship between gender and academic performance. Much of the academic literature regarding women in collegiate sports tends to focus on issues germane to Title IX, as well as specific issues such as self-esteem, disordered eating, and gender role orientation. Missing from this line of work is a consideration of more academic and sport-related factors that may influence academic performance.

In this study, we seek to combine and examine these two inter-related but understudied issues. Our expectation was that the factors affecting academic outcomes, principally a student's Grade Point Average, would vary significantly across divisions, sport, and gender both unconditionally and conditionally. This is not necessarily a novel hypothesis, especially within the context of some prior work, but our empirical approach is. Specifically, we undertake an analysis that is not only designed to partially replicate what has been done with predominantly case studies but more importantly to use a large cross-section of institutions that allowed a comparison across divisions, sports, and gender which has not been undertaken in prior work. We include variables representing academic and athletic identity across all three divisions while controlling for a number of prior and current socio-demographic and academic variables.


Joseph N. Cooper (University of Connecticut)

Shaun Dougherty (University of Connecticut)

Tiffany J. Davis (North Carolina State University)

Description of Research:

The purpose of this study was to examine the nature and quality of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) male student-athletes' college experiences across race, sport, and divisional classifications. In recent years, the NCAA and its member institutions have faced intense scrutiny regarding the proper role of intercollegiate athletics within their educational missions. Additional concerns have been levied at the NCAA for the persistent academic performance gaps along gender and racial lines across all divisions.  However, limited research has engaged in multi-divisional analyses of male student-athletes. Using data from the 2006 NCAA GOALS study, the current study examined differences in male student-athletes' experiences across racial groups, type of sport involvement, and divisional classifications. Key findings revealed salient differences between the social experiences of high profile and low profile sport student-athletes as well as significant differences between the academic experiences of Black and Non-Black student-athletes. Implications for policy and practice are discussed.

Learn More About The Project:

Findings for this project were recently presented by the researchers at the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) Conference on November 7, 2015.


Dr. Joy Gaston Gayles (North Carolina State University)

Rebecca E. Crandall (North Carolina State University)

Shauna M. Morin (North Carolina State University)

Description of Research:

Although higher education research underscores the importance of sense of belonging for students' academic success and degree completion, research on the development and impact of sense of belonging for student-athletes is limited. Informed by Astin's (1993) Input-Environment-Output (I-E-O) model and Tinto's (1994) theory of student departure, this study seeks to expand existing scholarship by examining the influence of academic/social experiences and college climate on student-athletes' sense of belonging. Analysis of NCAA Growth, Opportunity, Aspirations and Learning of Students in College (GOALS) survey data obtained from a sample of Division I student-athletes revealed significant differences in sense of belonging across gender, race/ethnicity, and college sport. Additionally, numerous academic and social experiences, as well as team and campus climate dimensions, are associated with student-athlete sense of belonging.


Kevin Kniffin (Cornell University)

Description of Research:

Following recent research that shows a positive relationship between participation in high school sports (generally) and various work-related traits of Leadership, Self-Confidence, and Self-Respect as well as occupational outcomes such as higher-status jobs, I have focused my analysis of the GOALS dataset on comparisons between those who played team-dominated sports as compared with sports that are more individualist (e.g., Track or Wrestling). 

Preliminary findings show a robust pattern that appears to indicate that student-athletes on team-dominated sports tend to demonstrate significantly more pro-social attitudes and behaviors.  In addition, the same difference appears significantly related to important career-related attitudes and approaches.  A manuscript about the findings is planned for 2016 publication.

Learn More About The Project:

Findings for this project were recently presented by the researcher at the Interdisciplinary Network for Group Research (INGRoup) meetings in late July 2015.


Brenda Vogel (California State University-Long Beach)

Dan Jeske (University of California-Riverside)

Description of Research:

Our analysis to-date was investigating the difference between a group of 'student athletes' and a group of 'athlete students.'  These designations are our way of distinguishing the general population of student athletes with respect to whether or not they would have pursued college in the absence of their athletic talent.  Question 4-12a on the survey provided an answer to this question.  'Student Athletes' in our terminology are those who answered yes, they would have pursued college anyway and 'Athlete Students' are those who answered no, they would not have.

What we found in the data analysis thus far supports a lot of intuition.  Some snippets of the findings include that 'Student Athletes.'  For example, 'Student Athletes' have a higher GPA, are more likely to participate in class, are more likely to work with faculty, are more likely to discuss their academic work outside of class, are more likely to read books for pleasure, feel more positive about their academic experience, feel that graduating is more important, and think more about graduate school.  On the other hand, 'Athlete Students' believe going pro is more likely, believe it is more likely their career will involve athletics, are more likely to attend concerts and plays, see themselves more of an athlete than a student, and feel perceived on campus more as an athlete than a student.  There is more we looked at, but this kind of gives a good overview of our work.


Jennifer Hoffman (University of Washington)

Ismael Fajardo (University of Washington)

Joe Lott (University of Washington)

Description of Research:

The purpose of this study is to better understand how the college athlete social systems influence the involvement, engagement, and integration in volunteering among college athletes. Our findings suggest that Division I college athletes in this survey are not unlike their peers in the ways that some social system activities known to foster community service among college students foster the similar volunteering behaviors among Division I college athletes.

College athletes' opportunities for involvement in other extracurricular activities that can influence their volunteering behaviors are examined. Using the social system constructs from Division I athletes from Comeaux & Harrison's (2011) conceptual model, college athlete-specific environments are examined for influence on volunteering behaviors. Findings indicate that activities and values associated with college student volunteering are consistent with athlete volunteering.