Becoming REGS: The Impact of Institutional Sport Elimination on Division I Student Athletes

By Derek Van Rheenen, Nick McNeil, Vincent Minjares and Jason R. Atwood.

Published by The Sport Collection

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The elimination of varsity sports at American colleges and universities has become a frequent strategy to reduce rising institutional subsidies for intercollegiate athletics. This paper analyzes the psychological effects of institutional sport elimination on a sample of college athletes from five varsity programs at a large public Division I university on the west coast of the United States. Utilizing historical trend analyses and quantitative methods, findings suggest that the involuntary loss of a sponsored athletic identity had varying effects on these participants’ athletic commitment but did not alter their self-identification as athletes. While the majority of these college athletes remained committed to their educational goal of graduating from the institution, the decision negatively impacted these college athletes’ sense of belonging on campus and their general commitment to the university.

Keywords: NCAA Division I College Athletes, Varsity Sport Elimination, Involuntary Athletic Termination

The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.91-105. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 686.621KB).

Dr. Derek Van Rheenen

Professor/Director, Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, USA

Derek Van Rheenen directs the Cultural Studies of Sport in Education M.A. Program in the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has served on the faculty since 1997. His research interests include children’s play and games, the connections between sports, culture and learning and the peculiar institution of American college athletics.

Nick McNeil

Academic Advisor, Athletic Study Center, University of California, Berkeley

Nick McNeil currently works with student athletes as an Academic Advisor at the Athletic Study Center at the University of California, Berkeley. Nick recently completed his Masters of Arts degree in the Cultural Studies of Sport and Education (CSSE) program at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education at U.C. Berkeley.

Vincent Minjares

Director of Academic Development, Athletic Study Center, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California, USA

Vincent Minjares is the Director of Academic Development for student athletes at the University of California, Berkeley. Vincent designs, supports and executes academic support programming, primarily for at-risk students. He recently earned his M.A. in the Cultural Studies of Sport in Education (CSSE) at UC Berkeley, focusing on the relationship between learning in sport and learning in school.

Jason R. Atwood

Educational Researcher, Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley, Santa Barbara, USA

Jason R. Atwood is completing his Ph.D. in Educational Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. J.R. studies how people develop beliefs about their intellectual and physical abilities, and is interested in how conceptions of natural and acquired talent are related to patterns of motivation, resiliency, and achievement in the domains of school and sport.