Hyerim Lee

PROV 507
April 26, 2014
Literature Review Final

Impact of College Sport Models in the U.S. and South Korea on Student-athletes’
Academic Success
1. Introduction
A number of countries have established organizations to administer and regulate their college
sport systems and one of the examples is National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in
the United States. The NCAA is responsible for all of the college sports in the U.S. and all of the
college athletic programs, and their student athletes are under its management and regulation.
Also, the NCAA heavily emphasizes on student-athletes’ athletic, academic and personal
development and a lot effort has made into improving student-athletes’ college experiences. In
fact, since the early 1900s, the NCAA has implemented regulations and programs that help
student-athletes develop skills to succeed in both athletics and academics in higher education
(Watt & Moore, 2001). In addition, much research has been done on student-athletes’ college
experiences in the United States. On the other hand, South Korean colleges have allowed
student-athletes to focus solely on their athletic goals and put less emphasis on their academic
development. Much focus was on being professional athletes rather than being students. Even
though the importance of improving student-athletes’ college experiences has been concerned for
decades by many researchers in South Korea, there were no such movements toward the
development of student-athletes’ academic experiences. Therefore, their lack of academic
experiences and low academic ability lead them to find it difficult to change and choose their
career path when they discontinue athletics for several reasons. They do not develop skills that
are necessary to succeed in personal and career development. However, more concerns about
student-athletes’ academic experiences have increased in South Korea, and more researchers
became aware of the importance of student-athletes’ academics. Korea University Sport
Federation (KUSF) was established in 2010 to develop Korea college sport environment, and its
goal is to protect student-athletes’ learning experiences and academic competencies through
conducting research on and support student-athletes’ academic experiences and educational
management (KUSF, n.d, ). The research analyzing the grade point average of student-athletes
from 56 colleges showed that student-athletes’ GPA was lower than students’ average grade, and
had lower grade on liberal arts courses than major coursework which is either physical education
or leisure sport (KUSF, n.d.). The Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Ministry of Culture,
Sports, and Tourism (MCST) implemented the academic eligibility requirement regulation to
promote student-athletes’ academic success in 2011 (MOE & MCST, n.d.) which proves that
many researchers and politicians realize the need to improve student-athletes’ academic
experiences for increasing career opportunities for student-athletes who discontinue their
athletics after graduating from their colleges.
2. Findings from the literature review
In this review of literature, student-athletes’ unique and complex responsibilities and the
challenges they often face are discussed. Also, student-athletes’ perceptions of their college
experiences and the factors that affect their academic experiences are presented.
2.1 Challenge of Being Student-athletes
Research in student-athletes’ college experiences has increased over the decade. There is
new research examining student-athletes’ unique and complex responsibilities and their
challenges while participating in college athletics. In the U.S education contexts, many student-
athletes face challenges associated with their obligatory work in academics and athletics
(Carodine, Almond, & Gratto, 2001; Jolly, 2008; Comeaux, 2012). According to Carodine,
Almond, and Gratto (2001), student-athletes spend more than thirty hours a week focusing on
athletics and they should maintain National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) academic
eligibility standards requirement to compete in events, receive scholarships, and graduate from
the colleges. Their mental and physical exhaustion and rehabilitation from injury can result in
student-athlete to not focus on their academic goals. Indeed, student-athletes often experience
problems in their psychosocial development which cause them to feel isolated. This problem can
have an effect on their both academic and athletic performances. Moreover, because of the time
demands they experience, student-athletes often feel stressed and depressed, and when they have
to travel for competitions, student-athletes find it difficult to maintain their academic success
(Jolly, 2008). Watson and Kissinger (2007) found that college student-athletes experience
psychological problems as they face challenges of balancing their role as a student and an athlete.
The authors point out that many college student-athletes find it difficult to manage their
academics and athletics because they encounter problems associated with not only their athletic
goals, but also their academic success and concern. Furthermore, student-athletes often expressed
their negative experiences while being student-athletes. For instance, Comeaux (2012) conducted
research exploring the types and contexts of athlete microggressions that student-athletes
experiences. Student-athletes reported their positive experience with their faculty and peers as
being student-athletes; however, some student-athletes reported their negative experience with
those members. Student-athletes reported that their professors had prejudice against their
intellectual abilities. Professors often assumed that student-athletes were not as smart as other
athletes. Some student-athletes expressed that their professors and peers often held stereotypic
assumptions about their academic motivations. The peers doubted that student-athletes had
interested in their academic achievement.
2.2 Academic Support Service and Programs
Many colleges provide programs to help student-athletes succeed in their academic goals
and their future careers. Student-athletes believe that academic support they receive has impact
on their college experiences. For example, in Potuto and O’Hanlon’s study (2007), a majority of
student-athletes reported that the academic and advising assistance provided by college helped
them succeed in their academics. Some faculty and non-athlete students argue that student-
athletes do not deserve to receive any special treatments (Comeaux, 2012), and they consider
those special treatments unfair. Student-athletes often receive special treatment including
tutoring, early enrolment, special advising, and review sessions (Simon, Rheenen, & Covington,
1999; Potuto & O’Hanlon, 2007). Pierce (2007) conducted a case study to examine the academic
success of nineteen current student-athletes who majored in engineering at the University of
South Carolina, a member of NCAA Division I Southeastern Conference. Their grade point
average during the spring semester of 2005 was well above 3.00 on a 4.00 scale, the engineering
student-athletes who sought an additional help from their engineering faculty members received
a higher grade point average than those who did not. The results of Paule and Gilson’s research
(2010) showed that student-athletes found the academic support services they received helpful
for their academics. Student-athletes emphasized the benefits of receiving tutoring which helped
their ability to interact with professors, do assignments, and any academic related work.
Carodine, Almond, and Gratto (2001) emphasized the importance of academic support services
to assist student-athletes in their learning and studying skills. Currently many colleges provide
Challenging Athletic Minds for Personal Success (CHAMPS)/Life Skills programs to help
student-athletes in athletic, academic, personal and career development which was established by
the NCAA to improve student-athletes’ experiences (Watt & Moore, 2001).
2.3 Student-Athletes’ Social Interaction
Research has shown a relationship between student-athletes’ social interaction and
student-athletes’ academic experiences and researchers emphasize the importance of social
interaction for student-athletes. Bell (2009) conducted research examining the impact of
academic role set on student-athletes’ academic experience by examining Division I Football
Bowl Subdivision (FBS) football student-athletes, The results revealed that the academic role-set
members who motivated their academic success were coaches, non-athletes peers, fellow
athletes, academic advisors, faculty, and parents. The author claimed that coaches and academic
advisors played the most significant role in student-athletes’ academic experience. Student-
athletes commented that coaches discussed the chance of playing at the professional level with
student-athletes and emphasized the importance of academic accomplishment and graduation.
Student-athletes reported that athletic academic support services helped them in academic
pursuits. For example, student-athletes had an access to academic advisors who motived their
academic motivation and helped their scheduling and academic concern. Student-athletes
received academic advising related to academic and future direction from their fellow students,
and this motivated them to maintain their academic eligibility. Indeed, student-athletes reported
that fellow students who shared similar course work and schedule helped them in academic
development. The study showed the importance of interaction with non-athlete peers and faculty
who motivated their academic success and their commitment to academic success. The
Interaction with their professor enables them to receive advice about their academic future and to
find their academic interest, and small number of student-athletes commented that their parents
played an important role in their academic experience. In Simons, Rheenen, and Covington’s
(1999) study, student athletes reported that they had to focus on developing their athletic ability
rather than academic because they had to prove their ability to their coach to continue competing
which showed coaches played an important role as they spent much time with their student-
athlete. According to study by Potuto and O’Hanlon (2007), student-athletes reported that their
family, teammates, roommates, classmates and other friends played an important role in their
social and emotional development. Indeed, student-athletes responded that they were able to
interact with more diverse group of students. In Pierce’s (2007) study, engineering student-
athletes who demonstrated their academic success were more likely to engage in group study
with their non-athlete peers and to interact with their faculty advisors and their professors. Jolly
(2008) also emphasized the importance of building relationships between faculty and student-
athletes and believed that this can assist faculty in understanding of student-athletes’ college
experiences and challenges. In fact, the understanding their dual roles of student and athlete will
increase faculty members’ willingness to provide academic support for student-athletes and to
remove student-athletes’ misperceptions of faculty and professors’ stereotypical assumptions
about their academic abilities. Simons, Rheenen, and Covington’s (1999) also suggested that
interaction with faculty would aid student athletes to develop their identity as a student and to
experience academic community. In addition, Watson and Kissinger’s (2007) study indicated the
impact of social interaction on student-athletes’ experiences. The results revealed that college
student-athletes scored lower than the non-athlete group on the Social Self factors because
student-athletes spend much time on their athletic activities and their opportunity to develop their
social relationships with non-athlete students is very limited, which support that student-athletes’
time commitments to college athletic caused the limitation of their opportunities to participate in
their campus activities (Paule & Gilson, 2010). In addition, many student-athletes responded that
they could not engage in college experiences as much as they wanted to do because they spent
much time on athletic participation (Potuto and O’Hanlon, 2007). Many researchers also
indicated that student-athletes’ lack of time to experience their campus life and to interact with
people outside of their athletic programs can cause student-athletes develop their identification as
athletes rather than students. Watt and Moore (2001) also claimed that student-athletes tend to
isolate themselves from non-athlete students and be unwilling to participate in class discussions
which can cause student-athletes to disregard the academic activities and responsibilities which
are significant to become successful students, and they are more likely to emphasize their role as
athletes rather than students. As their athlete identities overpower their student identities,
student-athletes can encounter “identity foreclosure” which has a negative effect on the
development of their students’ identity. Watson and Kissinger argued that their lack of social
interaction may cause the overidentification with their athletic role and this problem can be one
source affecting their academic, social, and personal development, and their sense of holistic
3. Synthesis: Limitations and Suggestions for Future Research
This review of literature has identified the common challenges student-athletes face while
participating in college athletics such as academic eligibility requirement, stereotypical
assumptions about their intelligence and academic motivations, mental and physical exhaustion
and rehabilitation, and time demand in the United States. Research found that academic support
programs provided by colleges and the NCAA were created to improve those problems they
experience and provide their specific need. In addition, the impact of social interaction was
discussed as a major factor that affect student-athletes’ academic experiences. It is important to
note their challenges to understand the difficulties of balancing athletics and academics and who
those two issue affect student-athletes’ academic success. However, there are limitations in this
literature to understand South Korean student-athletes’ college experiences and identify the
factors that affect South Korean student-athletes’ academic success. This literature is studied
with only American student-athletes who participate in the US college model and there was no
research on social interaction for South Korean student-athletes and colleges do not provide
academic support services and programs. There is little research on student-athletes academic
performance such as GPA but not their perceptions of their college experience after
implementing the academic eligibility standards requirement. Therefore, there is need for
research on South Korean student-athletes academic experiences. Also, even though the US
college model has benefit on student-athletes’ academic experiences and success. There is gap in
knowledge about what are the benefits of the US model that can work in the other countries
including South Korea. Thus, there is need for cross-cultural comparative research on American
student-athletes’ and South Korean student-athletes’ academic experience. This will benefit a
better understanding of what South Korean college might need to provide for improving student-
athletes’ academic experiences, and what regulation and programs the MOE and MCST should
implement in addition to academic eligibility standard regulation in order to reform the South
Korean college sport model for student-athletes’ academic experiences and career development.

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