The age-old saying “it takes one to know one” can be applied pretty accurately to many aspects of life. Whenever an individual can walk a mile in one’s shoes, they are more apt to understand the nuances of someone’s situation. Cliché’s and pearls of wisdom aside, these tried and tested values hold true for NCAA student-athletes as well. Because they’ve been entrenched in the middle of athletic competition and academic enrichment, they have an informed viewpoint on what happens in each arena.
Some of those student-athletes develop an additional curiosity about their athletic worlds, and want to use the intellectual capacities they’ve ripened to study topics more intimately in grad school. The NCAA has facilitated this growth by awarding five research proposals a maximum of $7,500 one time grants. The five students who received these grants will have the opportunity to share their findings with the NCAA Research Committee next fall.
While this gesture is certainly an altruistic one by the NCAA, it is also interesting to look at what topics each of the five students are looking to probe with this funding.
Temple University’s Nataliya Bredikhina will focus on the pursuit of name, image and likeness opportunities for college athletes. The study will touch on how many are interested in securing an NIL endorsement, and how the deal, or lack thereof, impacts their well-being. This is a hot button topic in 2021, since the rule change that was passed this summer allows players to profit from this.
Indiana University’s Jeff Ruser is also exploring an NIL adjacent topic, but more along the lines of how social media impacts athletes looking to promote their brand. Whether it’s a large name athlete competing in a revenue generating sport, or an athlete competing in a lesser known discipline, navigating the pitfalls of social media for this generation is a crucially important topic.
The University of Oklahoma’s Simran Kaur Sethi is taking a look at an area that is largely uncovered; international students who come to the United States to play college sports. Sethi is examining athletes who have competed here, and follows them after they graduate to find out how they are making out after the university phase of their life ends.
The University of Cincinnati’s Marcus Smith is taking a deeper dive into men’s college basketball with regards to the importance of race. Smith is examining this theme with regards to coaching and mentoring in the sport.
The University of Saint Louis’ Rebecca D. Taylor might have the most grim research subject, but it also can have the most important impact on saving lives. Taylor is examining the topic of suicidality in collegiate athletics, and will help shine a light on some demons student-athletes may be facing that will help the larger population as a whole understand what can be done to prevent this.