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Introducing the Student-Athlete Knowledge Community

by on May 16, 2013

Jeff Graham
Associate Dean of Student
Frostburg State University

Athletics are often an integral part of the college experience and can serve as a source of pride for students, faculty, and alumni. According to the NCAA, there are more than 450,000 student-athletes participating at 1,066 member institutions. Retention rates and graduation rates for student-athletes tend to be higher than non-athletes, and athletics often play a major role in the enrollment management strategies for institutions of higher education. Depending on the division, approximately ten percent of freshmen students matriculating each Fall can be attributed to participating in intercollegiate athletics.

In October 2011, NASPA and the NCAA entered into a partnership for Drug and Alcohol Education. Specifically, NASPA’s AOD Knowledge Community committed to work collaboratively with over 450 Division III institutions in developing customized alcohol and drug prevention programs. Student-athletes tend to have higher binge drinking rates than non-athletes (Bracken, 2012) and also tend to experience more alcohol-related harms (Geisner, Grossbard, Kilmer, Larimer, & Neighbors, 2007). Subsequently, through a mutual relationship, NASPA agreed to provide expertise in working with athletic departments, coaches, and student-athletes by identifying research-informed best practices. The NCAA provides financial support via funding research pilot projects and alcohol prevention initiatives through CHOICES grants to member institutions.

At the 2012 Winter Meeting, NASPA fortified the commitment to highlight the importance student-athletes by approving the establishment of a Student-Athlete Knowledge Community. Mary Anne Nagy of Monmouth University and Robert Gatti of Otterbein University serve as co-chairs for the new SAKC, which held its inaugural meeting at the 2013 NASPA Annual Conference in March. Leah Kareti is the leadership representative from the NCAA and will be facilitating monthly conference calls for SAKC members beginning next week. SAKC has the following purpose: “create and advance knowledge in higher education specific to how partnerships among athletics, student affairs and other campus entities could enhance the well-being of all students, including student-athletes.”

Regardless of one’s views on intercollegiate athletics, for many students, participating in athletic endeavors in college provides personal enrichment, promotes a healthy lifestyle, and creates experiences that can enhance opportunities for future success. The Student-Athlete Knowledge Community plans to advocate for issues related to health and wellness of student-athletes, promote student development theories when considering policy implications, and work collaboratively with the NCAA in managing resources related to AOD prevention and education. Please feel free to contact the SAKC leadership team or me for additional information. Best wishes,


Bracken, N. (2012). National Study of Substance Use Trends Among NCAA College Student Athletes. Indianapolis, IN: National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Geisner, I., Grossbard, J., Kilmer, J., Larimer, M., & Neighbors, C. (2007). Are drinking games sports? College athlete participation in drinking games and alcohol-related problems. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. 68(1), 97-105.

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