A Preliminary Investigation of NCAA Division II Compliance Officers


NCAA DII Compliance Officers


This study examined the position of Compliance Officer at NCAA Division II institutions in the Upper Midwest of the United States. A perceptual and attitudinal scale was used to measure the participants’ responses to the structure that supports their job of NCAA compliance. Results indicated that having an experienced person responsible for compliance was essential. Overall, respondents reported that hiring professionals who have experience in law or a degree in law, such as a Juris Doctorate, was beneficial. Although the respondents reported that the introduction of new or innovative initiatives were welcomed and that their compliance efforts were better than the previous year, more than half of the participants agreed that the athletic department still should use more resources and strategies in fulfilling NCAA requirements. The majority of the Division II Compliance Officers’ surveyed suggested that limited staff and work load were factors which might hinder compliance efforts.  The findings from this study could benefit individuals responsible for maintaining a fair competitive playing field in sport organizations.

The tenuous balance between academics and athletics in higher education has created controversies that date back to the late 1800s (2). Early intercollegiate athletics became so aggressive and dangerous that during the 1905 season, 18 athletes died while numerous others were seriously injured in football alone.  Demonstrating how popular college sport had become, President Theodore Roosevelt demanded reform leading to a set of established rules and the precursor of the modern National Collegiate Athletic Association (19).

The NCAA is a multipurpose organization that governs intercollegiate athletic departments and their student-athletes.  From its inception in 1905, the NCAA has adopted thousands of rules and regulations to protect the student-athlete and prevent unethical advantages (4). Today, the NCAA Manual (2010-2011) continues to have distinct functions that strive to meet specific goals and objectives that directly involve student-athletes and their institutions.

The NCAA monitors three divisions (I, II, III) of athletic competition. Regardless of the type and size of the institution, the NCAA is responsible for addressing issues relating anywhere from academic issues like “Progress Towards Degree” and “Graduation Success Rate” to infractions and eligibility for each sport’s championship segment (21). NCAA rules must be monitored at each member institution and this multifaceted responsibility is handled by the Compliance Officer(s). The most publicized infractions tend to be associated with major revenue producing programs within NCAA Division I institutions (14, 26). Little research has been conducted at either the NCAA Division II or III level examining the role and duties of Compliance Officers. Therefore, a study investigating NCAA Division II Compliance Officers is warranted.

Compliance Issues
NCAA athletic compliance is a complex and often challenging aspect of intercollegiate athletics that all governed Division I, II, and II institutions must follow. Institutions must monitor and enforce athletic habits of student-athletes, coaches and administrators. If a school is held responsible for a violation, it most likely involves a lack of institutional control and monitoring of standards on behalf of the compliance department and athletic administrators (3, 8).

Violations of NCAA bylaws and regulations are varied and can occur in all sports (12).  The aftermath from breaking NCAA rules not only affects the athletic program, but can also tarnish the overall reputation of the institution (5). A study examining NCAA infractions at all divisions between 2005 and 2008 identified the seven most common violations that can occur at an institution or to their student-athletes (22). The most frequent institutional violation was a failure to monitor athletic programs. This type of infraction can be considered the worst to commit because it represents failure for the entire athletic department on all fronts. Furthermore, it shows that the institution as a whole, even beyond the athletic department, has failed to put a proper monitoring system in place (8).

Another frequently reported compliance issue pertains to academic fraud and academic progress. In 2003, the NCAA started collecting data for the Graduation Success Rate (GSR) (21), a measure calculated annually by Division I member institutions to determine athlete graduation rates.  Division II institutions followed a similar methodology, the Academic Success Rate (ASR), but also gave unique consideration to athletes who entered their first year without receiving athletic-based aid. The NCAA also instituted an Academic Progress Rate (APR) to measure academic achievement by teams each term (1).  The goal of the APR is to hold schools accountable for educating athletes throughout their athletic career.  NCAA sanctions can occur if a team’s APR score falls below a certain threshold.  As a condition of NCAA membership, institutions are accountable for reporting these measures of the academic records for their athletic teams (12).

The Position of Compliance Officer
The position of Compliance Officer has emerged to take responsibility for complying with NCAA rules and regulations. The duties of a Compliance Officer, at governed institutions are to educate, monitor, report, and enforce NCAA bylaws (13). A distinct aspect of an intercollegiate Compliance Officer’s position is the need to possess a thorough understanding of legal and NCAA regulations for an association, conference, and institution.

The Compliance Officer position covers a diverse subject area requiring a wide variety of skills and competencies. There is a constant dynamic that compliance officers must navigate as stated by (23) Pierce, Kaburakis, and Fielding (2008) “Coaches need to win, whereas Compliance Officers need coaches to abide by the rules” (p. 87). The compliance coordinator role within the athletics department has continued to expand and has gained the well-deserved respect of coaches, administrators, and student athletes.

Compliance efforts have become the cornerstone of maintaining institutional control within an athletics program. Institutions must be fully aware of what could happen to their well-being if and when an NCAA violation does occur. Therefore, Compliance Officers need to have more of a standard within the workplace including the ability to recognize and understand legal jargon, start a benchmark for the NCAA Divisions, and exercise their authority when appropriate (3, 8).

Purpose of Study
Research on the duties and roles of collegiate Compliance Officers is limited. Although the concept of compliance under the NCAA is not new, the little available research has been done almost exclusively at the Division I level. The purpose of this study is to provide a basic framework for research at the Division II level, thus establishing a justifiable need for this study.  Without research on compliance at the Division II level, it is difficult to advance the field of literature.

At the time this study was conducted, there were no studies addressing compliance issues or the accountability and level of support for Compliance Officers specifically at the NCAA Division II level. A more complete understanding of NCAA Division II Compliance Officers requires investigation. Research on compliance in particular at the Division II level would better represent the NCAA as a whole. Overall, this study has the potential to contribute to the lack of literature with NCAA Division II compliance efforts. This study will establish a basic foundational understanding of Division II Compliance Officers and their responses to the structure that support their job of NCAA compliance.

Participants and Procedure
Participants for this study were 14 Compliance Officers from a Division II conference in the upper Midwest of the United States. A total of 11 surveys were returned. The conference has undergone significant expansion in member institutions within the time frame of this instrument’s distribution. Two of the 14 full time member institutions were in the midst of transitioning from affiliation within the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) to the NCAA Division II.  This change may have affected their ability to respond to the survey.

Study participants completed a series of questions related to their opinions about the structure that supports their job as a NCAA Compliance Officer. Participants were asked  anonymously, and on a voluntary basis, to fill out an online questionnaire through Survey Monkey. The data-collection process was completed in 5 weeks within the 2010-2011 academic year.

The questionnaire, which was specifically developed for this study, included a total of 15 questions. Responses were recorded on a 5-point Likert-type scale which included: 1 = strongly agree, 2 = somewhat agree, 3 = neither, 4 = somewhat disagree, and 5 = strongly disagree. Each question on the survey addressed NCAA compliance efforts within an athletic department. Face validity was established by asking two athletic department staff members and two graduate students working for the athletic department to judge language of the statements in the questionnaire. The staff members and students were deemed to be a representative of those chosen to participate in the study. To determine the reliability of the instrument, Chronbach’s alpha was employed. The reliability coefficient was determined to be .712, which is within the acceptable range for the interpretation of scores (7). Descriptive data by percentages were used to measure NCAA compliance efforts at Division II institutions.

The participants surveyed were Compliance Officers from a NCAA Division II conference in the upper Midwest of the United States. Demographics of the respondents revealed that 64% identified themselves as male, and 36% as female. Participation by type of institution was 64% public and 36% private. Perhaps the greatest difference between NCAA Division I institutions and the Division II level is Compliance Officers often have responsibilities in addition to compliance. In this study, the current position of respondents was, 9% Marketing Directors; 18% Senior Women’s Administrator; 9% Faculty Athletic Representative; 9% Coach; 9% Associate Athletic Director; and 46% Assistant Athletic Director.  Regarding years in position, 64% reported they had been working for the organization for more than 6 years, 9% between 4 and 6 years, 9% subjects between 1 and 3 years, and the rest, 18%, had worked for the organization less than one year.  The total enrollment of the surveyed institutions was 27% had less than 2,500 students; 27% were between 2,501 and 5,000; 27% between 5,001 and 10,000; and 19% between 10,001 and 20,000. The average number of full-time professional staff employed in the athletic department were 18% (0 – 4); 9% (5 – 10); 9% (11 – 20); 64% (21 and more). Description of the participant demographic composition is presented in Table 1.
(Insert Table 1 here)

Descriptive Analysis
Descriptive analysis was conducted to examine Division II Compliance Officers and their responses to the structure that supports their job of NCAA compliance. Respondents were asked if their athletic department has an individual(s) specifically responsible for NCAA compliance. It was reported that 100% indicated that it would be beneficial to have an individual(s) designated full-time to be responsible for compliance within an athletic department.

An inquiry was made to examine what factors respondents thought were important to support their job of NCAA compliance. Of the 11 respondents, 80% indicated that their athletic department was doing a good job of letting the Compliance Officer introduce new, innovative strategies related to NCAA compliance and 100% agreed that NCAA compliance efforts are better today compared to a year ago. Regarding NCAA compliance efforts used within respondent’s athletic department, 50% agreed that an athletic department should be using more compliance resources, strategies, and initiatives and 80% indicate that the university has invested sufficient time and resources to adhere to NCAA compliance rules and regulations.

Overall, 100% of the respondents indicated that the leadership of the athletic department is fully committed to the long-term success of NCAA compliance and initiatives.  When asked if athletic departments should hire professionals who possess experience with NCAA compliance, 100% indicated that it was somewhat important. Although a vast majority of respondents revealed that professionals should possess experience with NCAA compliance, 60% agreed that professionals should possess experience in law (i.e. Juris Doctorate).

Respondents were asked specific questions related to factors that could hinder them from carrying out NCAA compliance rules and regulations. Overall, respondents agreed that operating constraints (67%), support from administration/supervisor (67%), budget (56%), and experience/expertise (68%), were not major factors that hindered them from carrying out NCAA compliance. Conversely, respondents indicated that limited staff (89%) and work load (78%) were key factors that stalled them from successfully carrying out NCAA compliance rules and regulations to the fullest extent. A summary of the results is presented in Table 2.
(Insert Table 2 here)

Compliance is an essential component of an athletic department. A Compliance Officer plays a key role for the institution in its efforts to achieve full compliance with all rules and regulations (18). Thus, athletic departments need to acknowledge the importance of evaluating a Compliance Officer’s work environment.  Trends emerged that provided insight into the work environment of a Division II Compliance Officer.

Continuing Education
The NCAA requires that each member institution, regardless of division, have a designated Compliance Officer for its athletic program. In fact, more and more institutions are recognizing that compliance is a significant theme that needs qualified personnel to help manage the rules and regulations that the NCAA has established.  Therefore, Compliance Officers with little or no legal training are often required to interpret the legal language of a complex NCAA manual.

Overall, respondents reported that hiring professionals who have a degree in law, such as a Juris Doctorate (J.D.), is preferred.  This continued education (i.e. J.D.) leads to formal qualifications that provide compliance personnel with the adequate knowledge and skills pertaining to NCAA compliance. Likewise, previous research has shown that at Division I, conference commissioners and fellow administrators perceived potential candidates positively when possessing a J.D. (6). Furthermore, those Compliance Officers who obtained a J.D. to pursue athletic administration were most often hired as Associate Athletic Directors and other executive administrative positions (27).
To emphasize the importance of compliance officers having a J.D., the National Association of Athletics Compliance (NAAC) has developed important benchmarks to standardize the industry of compliance within athletics (3). The NAAC website supports its members by providing educational opportunities to increase their knowledge and skill set, establish opportunities to increase understanding of relevant industry issues, and initiate and disseminate industry research, data and trends to enable compliance personnel to perform better. (17). While athletic compliance efforts evolve and become multifaceted, this study revealed that one Division II conference supported continued education.

Nature of Work
Variables exist that penetrate the offices, meeting rooms, and operational facilities. Athletic departments must be able to identify those variables that should be addressed in any program to improve the work environment. Respondents indicated they had other job duties beyond that of a Compliance Officer.  Limited staff and the nature of the job were cited as factors that could hinder their ability to carry out NCAA compliance. (25) Robinson, Peterson, Tedrick and Carpenter (2003) suggest that excessive job demands due to multi-tasking can impact job satisfaction of NCAA athletic administrators. According to (16) Mueller and Wallace (1996), (28) Tyler and Cushway (1998), and (29) Zhang, DeMichele, and Connaughton (2004), the lack of resources, less rewarding work conditions, lack of support from supervisors and co-workers, and heavy workloads have an effect on an employee’s satisfaction toward their jobs. Thus, an employee’s level of satisfaction may be shaped by multiple features of a particular department and institution.

Although respondents suggested that their institutions were fully committed to the long-term success of NCAA compliance and initiatives, respondents indicated that they would like to see athletic departments use more compliance resources, strategies, and initiatives. Athletic administrators must acquaint themselves with compliance and institutional control and not solely place the responsibility on the Compliance Officer (6). It is imperative that all coaches and administrators work together with their Compliance Officer to manage and adhere to the rules and regulations that have been established by the NCAA.  Athletic departments must be prepared to offer expertly established, promoted, implemented, and evaluated compliance standards (8). But to do this, universities must realize that compliance is not just a component of the NCAA, but an important tool that helps develop the overall makeup of the institution.

The body of knowledge is limited with regard to NCAA Division II compliance positions.  Although this study attempted to provide a limited perspective of these Compliance Officers, broadening this area of research to include additional sport governing bodies would create a greater understanding of the role and job duties of this increasingly important position. With specific regard to NCAA compliance and the need to decipher an often-complicated NCAA manual, future studies might also examine the effectiveness of NCAA compliance training sessions that introduce new and existing strategies that can help all Compliance Officers be more productive and learn with their jobs.  Because the study used a perceptual and attitudinal scale to measure Compliance Officers’ responses to the structure that supports their job of NCAA compliance, answers may change with time as well as organizational structure, individual responsibilities, and positions. Finally, further investigation into the job satisfaction and job related stress related to monitoring NCAA rules and regulations at all divisions is warranted.

Although this study focused on issues of compliance in NCAA Division II institutions, similar governance structures can be found in a variety sport organizations (11).  The need for such offices can be seen through well-publicized controversies that are not limited to any particular level of competition. In an attempt to monitor these issues, sport organizations often devote departments to attempt to regulate and control its member institutions. These structures are put in place to help maintain a fair competitive playing field and require constant monitoring and evaluation.

Policing such a wide array of rules and regulations can prove to be a challenge for sport organizations. The findings of this study suggest that to help meet and maintain NCAA regulations attention should be paid to the position and role of the institution’s Compliance Officer.  By offering avenues for continued education to broaden areas of expertise in compliance and by providing appropriate work related resources, NCAA compliance standards may be more easily met.  The participants in this initial study responded they often have job responsibilities in addition to Compliance Officer.  Not surprisingly, those who responded also suggested institutions might be well served to increase compliance staff in an effort to decrease workload.  Regardless, the qualifications and work environment of those charged with maintaining a balanced field of competition warrants further study.



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  4. Covell, D., & Barr, C. A. (2001). The ties that bind: presidential involvement with the development of NCAA Division I initial eligibility legislation. Journal Of Higher Education, 72(4), 414-452.
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Table 1     Demographic Characteristics of Division II Compliance Officer Sample (N = 11)










Type of Institution



Current Position
Marketing Director
Senior Women’s Administrator
Faculty Athletic Representative
Assistant Athletic Director
Associate Athletic Director




 Years in Position
More than 6 years
4 – 6 years
1 – 3 years
Less than 1 year




Table 2     Division II NCAA Compliance (N = 11)

NCAA Compliance





Individual Responsible for NCAA Compliance






Beneficial to Have Individual Designated to Compliance








Compliance Efforts
Ability to Introduce New, Innovative Strategies





Overall NCAA Compliance Efforts Today, Compared with a       Year Ago



Athletic Departments Should be Using More Compliance Resources, Strategies, and Initiatives



University Has Invested Sufficient Time and Resources to Adhere to Compliance Rules and Regulations



Leadership of Athletic Department is Fully Committed to the Long-Term Success of NCAA Compliance and Initiatives



Athletic Department Should Hire Professionals Who Possess Experience with NCAA Compliance



Professional Should Possess Experience in Law (i.e. Juris Doctorate)



   Factors That Could Hinder NCAA Compliance

Operating Constraints (Required NCAA Guidelines)



Support from Administration/Supervisor






Limited Staff



Nature of Work







2016-10-12T15:05:44+00:00April 2nd, 2013|Contemporary Sports Issues, Sports Studies and Sports Psychology|Comments Off on A Preliminary Investigation of NCAA Division II Compliance Officers

Intercollegiate Athletics vs. Academics: The Student-Athlete or the Athlete-Student


Athletic programs at many colleges and universities are inconsistent with the school’s mission statements. The term “student-athlete” basically
means that they are students first, and then athletes. We have reached a point here it can be argued that they are instead more athlete-students.
Regardless of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules and regulations that stipulate that they are not allowed to, some student-athletes still receive
preferential treatment and extra benefits while in college. Some recruited athletes are not prepared for the cascade of academic college work along with the additional
demands that NCAA athletics require. The athletic pressures that accompany NCAA athletic scholarship can leave the unprepared student athlete with little time
for academics.
With collegiate athletics becoming a big business the rules associated with how we treat the student athlete must change. It is not unreasonable to suggest
that is the business of college athletics changes then the way we treat the student athlete must change as well. Something needs to change in the way the
NCAA conducts its business. Considering the large amount of revenue that is, and for the foreseeable future will be, generated each year in this industry,
it is only fair that some sort of a stipend system be put in place to compensate student athletes.

Athletic programs at many colleges and universities are inconsistent with the school’s academic missions. The focus on maintaining a strong athletic
program has taken precedence over the scholastic quality of the student-athlete that is accepted into the institution. For the student-athlete this can mean
lowered academic admissions standards and preferential treatment in school. On the other hand, many student-athletes are attending college but not learning,
and are being overworked and undercompensated (Ting 2009). Overall the issue here is about the big business that intercollegiate athletics has become versus
the academic missions of the colleges and universities. The term “student-athlete” implies that the individuals should be students first, and then athletes. We
have reached a point where it can be argued that they are instead more athlete-students.
Athletic programs were first incorporated into institutions of higher learning for several reasons: it was believed that participation in sports helped to
build character, it provided entertainment, and it generated positive school and community spirit. “It was also believed that athletics could contribute
to the institutional mission through resource acquisition in the form of money, widespread visibility, increased student enrollment, and enhanced alumni support”
(Gerdy, 2006, p. 46). However, it seems that ever since collegiate athletics began in the late 1800’s, there have been noted problems. In the first
organized collegiate football game Rutgers University beat Princeton, but the team included three players that were failing a math class (Igel & Boland,
2010). Over time, the problem has grown: in the 1980’s 57 out of 106 Division IA institutions (54%) had to be censured, sanctioned, or put on probation for
a major NCAA rules violation (Mandel, 2007). Fifty eight out of one hundred and fourteen did the same in the 1990’s (Friday, 2011). Because of the
current state of most intercollegiate athletic departments, particularly those belonging to the NCAA Division I, colleges and universities have become more
than just institutions of higher learning; they are now also huge players in the commercial entertainment industry (Clotfelter, 2010).
Overall, many athletic programs have become something bigger than the school itself; without the program’s success the schools would not be as attractive
to incoming students (Pope &Pope 2009). The success of these athletic programs lies in the hands of the student-athletes, and they need to be taught that success
on the field does not always mean success in the classroom or in life. Athletics should be extracurricular to the academic priority (O’Toole, 2010).
The Athlete-Student
It is not a question of whether or not the experience for a student-athlete is different from that of a traditional student. Instead, the issue at hand
here is whether or not student-athletes are students that participate in extracurricular competitive sports, or have become athletes that also go to classes whenever
their athletic schedules allow. On one hand, it can be argued that the student-athlete benefits greatly from the relationship that he or she has with the athletic
department and its stakeholders. On the other hand, many claim that the athletic departments have reached a point where they are unjustly exploiting

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and overworking
these athletes, using them to further grow their multimillion dollar corporations.

Some student-athletes still receive preferential treatment and extra benefits while in college in clear violation of the spirit of NCAA rules and regulations..
Colleges and universities routinely lower admission standards for athletes (Laderson, 2002) (Bracken, Scoggins & Weiner 2006). On average, student-athletes enter
in the bottom 25% of their freshman class (Eitzen, 2000). They may even be promised “grades” to get them to attend a particular institution. (Lumpkin,
2008) Some might argue That such unethical behavior would not be necessary if student athletes were encouraged to hold their studies as their highest priority.
Student-athletes also receive extra benefits in the form of money and gifts as rewards for attending a particular university or for a good game-time performance.
Many athletes do not attend college to learn, but rather hope to use their collegiate competitive athletic experience to land positions on professional sports teams
(Ladenson, 2002). They have a distorted idea of what it should mean to be a student-athlete, and believe it to be more like a required minor league that
allows them to get enough exposure to someday make it to the major leagues. With the focus on athletic competition and away from academics, collegiate athletics
has become simply one game after another, after another, devoid of a larger educational purpose or vision, just like professional sports (Gerdy, 2006).
Recruited athletes are not prepared for college work, and then even more athletic demands than they are accustomed to, are placed upon them that allows little
time for academics (Gerdy, 2006) (Ting 2009). Student-athletes entering their first year hold more responsibilities than the non-athletic participating student,
and it may be more difficult for them to transition through changes in athletic participation demands on top of the new social and academic changes. McEwen
(2010) conducted a study using a sample of eleven freshman female student-athletes that were interviewed at the beginning and then the middle of the season. He
found that although all successfully adapted to their new social and athletic lives, only two of eleven (18.2%) were able to transition academically as well.
Athletes spend 30-40 hours per week on their sport which is mentally and physically exhausting, allowing them little time or energy to put toward their studies.
This is one of the reasons why coaches tend to require they take “easy” courses and “easy” majors so that they have a better chance of maintaining
academic eligibility and can still compete (Eitzen, 2000) (Manzo 1994). By promoting an emphasis on athletics being more important than anything else in college,
this also sends a poor message to the future college student-athletes, that athletics provide a “get rich quick avenue from the realities of hard
work, personal sacrifice, and a commitment to excellence” (Haynes, 1990 PAGE NUMBER HERE!). This could not be further from the truth; however, as less
than one out of ten thousand athletes make it into professional sports (Haynes, 1990).
Collegiate athletics has been estimated to be a sixty billion dollar industry (McCormick & McCormick, 2006). It is interesting to note who benefits from
this enormous amount of money. The big conference coaches are allowed agents and sign contracts that bring them hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars
per year in salary alone. The NCAA and the universities benefit from the billions of dollars made and do not have to pay taxes on their earnings as they are claiming
that athletic functions are in line with their academic missions. Corporations and the media benefit as they get business from the exposure at the athletic
events. The student-athletes are the only group involved that are not able to benefit proportionally from the billions of dollars raked in each year.
The NCAA claims that student-athletes are classified as such for a few very important reasons. First, athletes need to be able to claim amateur status.
They do this by remaining academically in good standing and by also not receiving any pay or gifts for their performance or presence as a student-athlete. This
way the NCAA can require them to perform work as athletes for free because it is considered part of the educational mission, which also means that they do
not have to pay taxes on their profits (Eitzen, 2000). McCormick and McCormick (2006) claim that student-athletes at Division 1 NCAA sports at revenue generating
schools are actually employee-athletes and they argue that they should be able to profit as well. The NCAA revealed that football players devote more than
forty hours a week to practicing, playing, and training, but only twenty of those hours are mandatory. This means that putting in the extra hours is a well-known
but non-documented requirement. Being required to participate in any work over forty hours a week is the equivalent to a full time job (Smith, 2011). Like
no other industry in the U.S., the NCAA is allowed to employ one type of labor (athletic participation and performance) without paying a competitive wage for
it (McCormick & McCormick, 2006). The student-athletes instead are provided with scholarships to attend school, which is a positive, but in comparison to
the billions of dollars brought in every year, the tuition money is equivalent to payment in ‘peanuts.’ The student-athletes are being exploited
economically, making millions for their institutions, the NCAA, and other corporations but are provided only with a subsistence wage or room, board, tuition and books.

The long hours that the student-athletes are required to put in are due to the athletic department’s attitudes of having to “win at all costs.”
This can lead to heavily publicized athletic scandals of schools that will pay athletes in money or gifts to attend their schools, or grade changes in order
to keep athletes academically eligible (Lumpkin 2008). Fans and stakeholders of big time programs would rather win and later get busted for cheating than
finish 8-4 or 9-3 every year with a straight-laced program of student-athletes (Mandel, 2007).
Eitzen (2006) suggests some ways to correct the current state of intercollegiate athletics in order to align the departments with their respective institution’s
academic missions. He suggests that institutions should no longer make admissions exceptions; eliminate freshman eligibility; provide remedial classes and training;
reduce time demands; allow athletes the freedom to transfer schools whenever they would like; give them the right to consult with agents just like coaches
are able to; and give them the right to make money from endorsements, speeches, etc. Smith (2011) suggests that all scholarship athletes should be able to receive
a guaranteed undergraduate education including living expenses, for each year that they participate as an athlete on a varsity team, which they should be
able to redeem at any time. This would allow them to focus on their sport if they choose to do so. At a certain point, taking the sport to the next level
will either pan out or it will not, and at that time the offer should still be on the table for the athlete to complete their degree. The NCAA has been
somewhat receptive to changes regarding the compensation of student athletes. A reform agenda has recently been passed by the NCAA’s Division I board
of Directors that allows schools to increase aid and lengthen scholarship terms to individual athletes (Cohen 2011).


Collegiate athletics has become a big business, but athletes are expected to stay the same? How can they be expected to be responsible for contributing to
the growth of a multibillion dollar industry but be the only party to not see any benefits from it (Toma & Kramer, 2009)? Balance needs to be maximized
between academic and athletic programs. If we are going to refer to individuals as student-athletes then they should indeed be held to the highest standard
of both student and athlete. Something needs to change in the process of how the NCAA conducts its business. The NCAA is going to have to admit that the
requirements for a student-athlete, particularly in Division 1 revenue producing sports, are the equivalent of that of a full time job. Considering the huge
amounts of money that are generated each year in this industry, it would only be fair if the student-athletes were all paid a monthly stipend for their participation.
Focusing on the “athletic” aspect of being a student-athlete more than the “student” is unfair and will limit the experiences that
the student-athlete should have while enrolled at the college or university of their choice. In order for the student to be well-rounded, programs must
focus on the concepts of self-sufficiency, independence, and personal goal getting (Haynes, 1990). Almost all student-athletes will end up as a professional in
something other than sports. It needs to be ensured that the students will succeed off the field as well as on the field (Smith, 2011). College is meant to prepare
students for the real world. By failing to adequately prepare our student-athletes the institution also fails to serve this important function.
The argument can be made that collegiate athletics overshadows academia at many schools. However, many feel that the whole university community benefits greatly
from a very successful athletic program. Although preferential treatment may be given to certain student-athletes in order for them to be able to attend
and complete an academic program and play for the athletic department, many believe it can be justified. It can be argued that many of these athletes would
never make it in a higher education program if there were no sports programs to help them get there, and no motivation for them to try to attend. On a small
scale, the university, directly the athletic department, benefits from the athletes because they help in growing the program and making it a success. A large number
of the student-athletes benefit from the university because it provides them with a quality and aspect of life that they normally would not be able to experience.
It is only a tiny minority that benefit from the institution preparing them for a future in professional sports.




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2016-10-12T15:04:37+00:00November 19th, 2012|Contemporary Sports Issues, Sports Facilities, Sports Management, Sports Studies and Sports Psychology|Comments Off on Intercollegiate Athletics vs. Academics: The Student-Athlete or the Athlete-Student

Motives for Sport Participation as Predictors of Motivation Outcomes in Track and Field: A Self-Determination Theory Perspective


The extent to which motives for sport participation predict motivation outcomes was investigated in a study embracing self-determination theory and couched in Vallerand’s hierarchical model of motivation at the contextual level. Data were collected from 159 collegiate athletes. Motives for sport participation were assessed using the Sport Motivation Scale. Cognitive, affective, and behavioral measures were used to assess contextual motivation outcomes. Linear regression analyses examined the extent to which sport motives predicted motivation outcomes (satisfaction, concentration, and persistence). Amotivation emerged as a strong negative predictor of the outcome measures. External and introjected regulations and three intrinsic motives did not predict any of the motivation outcomes. The results do not support previous findings and offer only limited support of Vallerand’s model.

Motives for Sport Participation as Predictors of Motivation Outcomes in Track and Field: A Self-Determination Theory Perspective

Two types of motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic, have been of particular interest to researchers in the field of sport psychology (Deci & Ryan, 1985, 2000, 2008; Vallerand, 1997, 2001). Intrinsic motivation entails participation in an activity for the feelings of fun, pleasure, excitement, and satisfaction associated with it, while extrinsic motivation involves participation for the attainment of such rewards as money, trophies, and social approval or to avoid punishment. One of the most widely applied theoretical approaches to these types of motivation is self-determination theory, or SDT (Deci & Ryan, 1985, 2000; Ryan, 1995; Ryan & Deci, 2000). SDT also involves the concept of amotivation, or having no sense of purpose and lacking intent to engage in a particular behavior. SDT posits that the different types of motivation range on a continuum from high to low self-determination: intrinsic motivation–extrinsic motivation–amotivation (Deci & Ryan, 1985, 2000).

Vallerand (1997, 2001) embraced elements of SDT and integrated them within a hierarchical theory of motivation. His model asserts that social factors, mediators (autonomy, competence, and relatedness), motivations, and consequences (affect, cognition, and behavior) exist at three levels, the global level, contextual level, and situational level. A number of studies have indicated that behavioral regulations spanning the SDT continuum would lead to a corresponding pattern of consequences (Ratelle, Vallerand, Chantal, & Provencher, 2004; Sarrazin, Vallerand, Guillet, Pelletier, & Cury, 2002; Standage, Duda, & Ntoumanis, 2003; Standage & Vallerand, 2008; Taylor, Ntoumanis, & Standage, 2008; Vlachopoulos, Karageorghis, & Terry, 2000; Wilson, Rodgers, Fraser, & Murray, 2004). That is, autonomous regulations and intrinsic motivation are expected to correspond with more positive outcomes, whereas less self-determined forms of regulation (external and introjected regulations) correspond with more negative outcomes, such as poor focus, burnout, and dropout. Vallerand’s proposals have found broad support in a range of sport and physical activity contexts (Standage et al., 2003; Wilson et al., 2004; Ntoumanis, 2001, 2005; Spray, Wang, Biddle, & Chatzisarantis, 2006); however, to date no study has examined these proposals in the context of a single sport.

The purpose of the present study was to examine the extent to which motives for sport participation predicted motivation outcomes at the contextual level of motivation, thus affording a direct test of Vallerand’s (1997, 2001) model. On the basis of previous work (Ntoumanis, 2001; Vallerand & Bissonnette, 1992; Pelletier, Fortier, Vallerand, Tuson, Briere, & Blais, 1995; Ntoumani & Ntoumanis, 2006), it was hypothesized that identified regulation and the dimensions of intrinsic motivation would be significant positive predictors of motivation outcomes, while amotivation would be a significant negative predictor.



A sample of 159 volunteer track and field athletes was tested at eight athletics clubs in the London, United Kingdom, area (66 women and 93 men). Their mean age was 19.7 years (SD = 2.8). English was the first language of all participants. Full details of the ethnicity and level of participation of participants can be requested from the second author. Eighty-five athletes participated in sprint events (53.5%), 30 in middle distance events (18.9%), 33 in throwing events (20.7%), 4 in long-distance events (2.5%), and 7 in multievents (4.4%). Their years of experience in track and field ranged from 1 to 18 (M = 5.8 years, SD = 3.5).


Sport Motivation Scale. The 28-item Sport Motivation Scale (Pelletier et al., 1995) was based on SDT and designed to assess contextual intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, and amotivation. Athletes respond to the item “Why do you practice your sport?” with responses from a Likert-type scale that ranges from 1 (does not correspond at all) to 7 (corresponds exactly). The Sport Motivation Scale (SMS) consists of seven subscales with four items attached to each. The participation motives operationalized by the SMS, ranging from the most to the least self-determined, are as follows: intrinsic motivation to know (“for the pleasure of discovering new training techniques”); intrinsic motivation toward accomplishment (“for the satisfaction I experience while I am perfecting my abilities”); intrinsic motivation to experience stimulation (“for the excitement I feel when I am really involved in the activity”); identified regulation (“because in my opinion, it is one of the best ways to meet people”); introjected regulation (“because I must do sports regularly”); external regulation (“to show others how good I am at my sport”); and amotivation (“it is not clear to me anymore; I really don’t think my place is in sport”). The SMS has strong psychometric properties (Pelletier et al.; Vallerand & Losier, 1999). Confirmatory factor analysis was used to support the factor structure, while correlations between subscales and criterion measures were consistent with theoretical predictions. Further, internal consistency estimates were acceptable for all subscales (α = .74– .80) with the exception of identified regulation (.63).

Affective outcome measure. Satisfaction was used as an affective outcome and was assessed using a single item: “I am satisfied with my participation in the sport I currently practice” (Vlachopoulos et al., 2000). Participants responded on a Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (I do not at all feel satisfied) to 7 (I feel extremely satisfied).

Cognitive outcome measure. Concentration was used as a cognitive outcome and was assessed using the dimension of concentration on task at hand from the Dispositional Flow Scale-2 (Jackson & Eklund, 2002). This dimension consists of four items (e.g., “I have total concentration”) and participants provided responses on a Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (never) to 5 (always).

Behavioral outcome measure. The behavioral outcome of persistence was assessed using the mean of three items: “I intend/I will try/I am determined to continue participation in the sport I currently practice during this year” (Vlachopoulos et al., 2000). Responses were provided on a semantic differential scale ranging from 1 (extremely unlikely) to 7 (extremely likely).


The study was approved in accordance with the published procedures of the Brunel University Ethics Committee. Coaches and team managers were approached by both authors, in order to obtain permission to administer questionnaires to athletes. The general purpose of the study was explained, and, subsequently, written informed consent was sought from participants. Only two athletes did not provide informed consent and thus did not participate in the study.

Prior to a training session, participants provided demographic details, then completed the SMS (Pelletier et al., 1995). Following a gap of 1 week, the contextual motivational outcomes were assessed prior to the corresponding training session. The time gap was used to reduce the possibility of any extraneous environmental factors impacting upon the relationship between motives for sport participation and motivation outcomes (Kelly, 1988).

Data Analysis

Data screening was undertaken to check for missing data and to ensure that values were within expected ranges. Univariate outliers were identified using z scores > ±3.29 and multivariate outliers using the Mahalanobis distance method (p < .001; Tabachnick & Fidell, 2007). Cases that had multiple univariate outliers or were multivariate outliers were deleted from the data file, while additional univariate outliers were reduced by modifying their raw score toward the mean, to a unit below the next least extreme raw score (Tabachnick & Fidell, p. 77). Checks were conducted for the parametric assumptions underlying standard linear regression, specifically normality, linearity, homoscedasticity, and independence of residuals. Standard linear regression analyses were used to predict the three outcome
measures from the seven SMS subscales.


Following data screening, three cases that had multiple univariate outliers and one case that was a multivariate outlier were identified and deleted. Also, 11 univariate outliers were identified and transformed to ensure that the corresponding z score fell within the accepted range (Tabachnick & Fidell, 2007). The mean Sport Motivation Scale scores were highest for the self-determined motives (see table 1), indicating that the present sample participated in sport predominantly for intrinsic and identified reasons rather than external and introjected reasons.

Table 1

Descriptive Statistics for the Sport Motivation Scale and Outcome Measures


Sport Motivation Scale
Amotivation 7.46 4.24 4.00-2.00 1.24 0.97
External regulation 15.35 4.68 4.00-27.00 0.14 -0.45
Introjected regulation 15.90 5.53 4.00-28.00 0.25 -0.67
Identified regulation 15.98 4.74 4.00-28.00 0.10 -0.42
Intrinsic motivation to know 19.88 4.34 9.00-28.00 -0.19 -0.57
Intrinsic motivation toward accomplishments 21.50 3.92 10.00-28.00 -0.56 -0.38
Intrinsic motivation to experience stimulation 20.68 3.72 11.00-28.00 -0.26 -0.35
Outcome measures
Satisfaction 5.40 1.25 1.00-7.00 -1.25 1.42
Concentration 15.26 2.18 9.00-20.00 0.19 -0.15
Persistence 6.89 0.27 6.00-7.00 -2.46 4.92

Normality checks of skewness and kurtosis values indicated that the only problematic variable among the 10 examined was persistence (see table 1). This is indicative of the fact that participants generally indicated strong intentions to persist in track and field. Given that this was the only problematic variable, a decision was taken not to apply logarithmic transformation.

Thereafter, three separate linear regression analyses were conducted to predict each outcome measure from the SMS subscales (see table 2). Collectively, independent variables revealed a significant (p < .01) overall prediction within each regression equation. Amotivation emerged as a strong negative predictor of each of the three motivation outcomes. Contrary to expectations, the intrinsic motives did not predict the outcome measures in any of the equations. The predictor variables accounted for the highest degree of percentage variance in the outcome of satisfaction (16%), followed by concentration (9%), and persistence (6%).

Table 2

Standard Linear Regression to Predict Motivation Outcomes from Motives for Sport Participation

Dependent variablePredictor variableStandardized beta (β)

Satisfaction Amotivation -0.40*
External regulation 0.18
Introjected regulation -0.06
Identified regulation -0.02
Intrinsic motivation to know 0.05
Intrinsic motivation toward accomplishment 0.02
Intrinsic motivation to experience stimulation 0.09
R = 0.45
R2 = 0.16
Concentration Amotivation -0.24*
External regulation 0.19
Introjected regulation -0.02
Identified regulation -0.06
Intrinsic motivation to know -0.16

Note. The analysis of variance corresponding with each linear regression analysis was significant (p < .01).

* p < .01.


The purpose of the present study was to examine the extent to which motives for sport participation predicted motivation outcomes at the contextual level of motivation in a single sport. More specifically, this study examined the proposition that more self-determined forms of motivation are positively associated with motivation outcomes than either their controlling counterparts or amotivation (Deci & Ryan, 1985; Ryan & Deci, 2000).

Results indicated that amotivation negatively predicted the contextual motivation outcomes, which corroborates recent findings pertaining to this dimension (Deci & Ryan, 2000; Wilson et al., 2004). However, neither intrinsic motives nor external or introjected regulations predicted any of the outcome measures. Collectively, the present results appear to offer only very limited support for the research hypothesis; autonomous regulations and intrinsic motivation were not positive predictors of the motivation outcomes.

Contrary to expectations, the present findings do not support those of previous studies which showed that identified regulation and intrinsic motivation were positively associated with motivation outcomes at the contextual level of motivation (Wilson et al., 2004; Ntoumanis, 2001; Ntoumani & Ntoumanis, 2006). It is plausible that the predictive efficacy of intrinsic motivation to know may be lower in track and field than in some other sports, because track and field is primarily a motoric sport involving relatively few tactics; athletes follow their coaches’ instructions closely and do not exhibit a particularly deep desire to explore new performance strategies. However, it is acknowledged that anecdotal evidence suggests this may not generalize to elite performers (Johnson, 1996; Lewis & Jeffrey, 1990). A further plausible cause for the anomalous findings is that coaches emphasize and strongly encourage peer or social comparison (competition) among athletes, which may well weaken the link between intrinsic motivation and outcomes (Spray et al., 2006; Whitehead, 1993).

The regression analyses predicted a relatively small percentage of the variance in the cognitive and behavioral outcomes but a considerable percentage of the affective outcome (16%). This indicates that behavioral regulations are strong predictors of how people feel about their participation in sport. Most notably, amotivation was found to be a strong antithetical marker of satisfaction, a finding that is entirely consistent with theoretical predictions (Ntoumanis, 2001; Wilson et al., 2004). This implies that if coaches are to address the potentially deleterious effects of amotivation, an effective strategy would be to apply mood- and emotion-regulation strategies and to demonstrate some sensitivity toward athletes’ affective states.

Another interesting aspect of track and field which may, to a degree, account for the somewhat anomalous findings, is its multidisciplinary nature. This means not only are psychological needs underlying intrinsic motivation being frustrated by the sport’s coactive nature and emphasis on social comparison, there is in addition a further level of competition between event groups, for example sprints versus throws or jumps versus distance running. Proponents of each event group vie for use of facilities, limited financial resources, and media attention. This fusion of conflicting forces makes track and field a very distinct sport, which may account for the present results’ lack of support for the propositions of SDT. This is indeed the first study in the sport literature to offer a voice of dissent by suggesting that SDT has very limited predictive efficacy in terms of motivation outcomes.

Limitations of the Present Study

Data for the present study were collected at the height of the summer track and field season, and participants were, consequently, immersed in their preparations for competition. A strong orientation toward performance outcomes may have served to undermine their intrinsic motivation to a degree. More specifically, the overt emphasis on competition at that time of year may have promoted an external locus of causality, given that competition is
inherently controlling in nature (Fortier, Vallerand, Briere, & Provencher, 1995; Vansteenkiste & Deci, 2003).

The varying participation levels of athletes in the present sample could also have accounted for unexpected findings pertaining to the predictive efficacy of self-determined forms of motivation. Essentially, it is conceivable that different combinations of motives may be relevant to athletes competing at different levels. For example, the external regulation score of international athletes (M = 16.37) indicated that their sport participation was less self-determined than was the participation of their recreational counterparts (M = 14.71), albeit this difference did not reach statistical significance (p < .05).

Conclusions and Recommendations

The present findings provide very limited support for Vallerand’s (1997, 2001) hierarchical model of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and, indeed, for posits of SDT (Deci & Ryan, 1985, 2000; Ryan & Deci, 2000). Contrary to expectations, results indicated that amotivation was the only predictor of the contextual motivational outcomes.

The practical implications of the present findings lie in promoting factors that underpin intrinsic motivation in track and field. Perceptions of autonomy and individual mastery will nurture intrinsic motivation and ultimately improve sport performance (Edmunds, Ntoumanis, & Duda, 2006; Whitehead, 1993; Wilson & Rodgers, 2004). Coaches should emphasize positive sensations such as fun and excitement that result from participation, while tempering their emphasis on peer comparison (Taylor et al., 2008; Whitehead, 1993). Further, coaches should be trained in the principles underlying emotional intelligence, given that the present findings suggest that sensitivity to athletes’ affective states is likely to buffer the potentially negative consequences of amotivation.

A promising direction for further research would be to investigate the psychological need for relatedness, given that much past sport motivation research has focused on the need for autonomy and the need for competence (e.g., Deci & Ryan, 2008; Vallerand & Losier, 1999). It appears likely that the need for relatedness may be frustrated in track and field, owing to the track and field sports’ potential for conflict and coaches’ overt emphasis on peer comparison.

Future research should explore additional motivation outcomes, for example cognitive outcomes such as attention span and level of learning (Ntoumanis, 2001). Moreover, additional research is warranted into the antecedents of amotivation, in order to minimize negative consequences such as burnout and dropout. Finally, replication of the present study during the off-season would yield insightful comparative data, since participation in track and field is orientated more toward self-development than it is toward peer or social comparison. The predictive efficacy of sport motives may well vary from competitive periods to noncompetitive periods, and this would hold important implications for theory development.


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2016-04-01T09:43:41+00:00October 7th, 2008|Contemporary Sports Issues, Sports Exercise Science, Sports Studies and Sports Psychology|Comments Off on Motives for Sport Participation as Predictors of Motivation Outcomes in Track and Field: A Self-Determination Theory Perspective