School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Ellen Lowrie Black


academics, collision sports, contact sports, noncontact sports, aggression


Educational Leadership | Sports Studies


The present study seeks to determine whether significant differences exist in the academic outcomes, specifically grade point averages (GPA), between college students who participate in collision, contact, or noncontact sports. Additionally, this study seeks to understand whether sport contact levels are predictive of a student’s GPA when sport competition levels and demographic variables are also taken into account. Current research suggests links between sports participation, aggression, brain injuries, and academic outcomes. Along these lines, a significant amount of research has investigated relationships between student aggression and academic outcomes, between aggression and sport contact levels, and between sports participation and academic outcomes. Brain injuries due to athletic participation have also been extensively studied from the perspective of the level of sports contact and the effect these may have on grade outcomes. However, no study has directly tied the level of contact in sports to academic outcomes. This study used a quantitative, predictive correlational research design to examine group differences between United States service academy cadets participating in various levels of competition and contact in sports. Data from seven graduating classes were examined through multiple linear regression with cumulative GPA as the criterion variable. Results indicated that some predictors—being American Indian or Alaska Native, Hispanic or Latino, Asian, African American / Black, or Caucasian / White; playing intramurals, a club sport, an NCAA sport, or intramural-club sports; a contact sport, a noncontact sport, collision-noncontact sports, or contact-noncontact sports; and gender—are weakly predictive of a service academy cadet’s GPA at graduation. The present study helps educators, athletic directors, and administrators at all levels to better understand the impact of athletics in the university system.

Available for download on Friday, May 12, 2023