Academic success among softball and baseball student-athletes in Alabama rural community colleges: an exploration of the relationship between demographic, socioeconomic, and academic background characteristics and student academic outcomes
Community colleges have come under increased scrutiny lately for their low retention and graduation rates, but these institutions are not the only focal point of public criticism. Intercollegiate athletics has recently been admonished for its emphasis on athletic excellence, often in place of academic achievement. Alabama Community College Conference member institutions, however, lack empirical evidence that identifies whether these assertions are evident within the ACCC, thus preventing campus leaders from implementing strategies designed to enhance lower student success rates among student-athletes enrolled at their schools. Therefore, this study sought to determine rates of student success among Alabama community college baseball and softball players. In particular, the research explored which demographic factors might be useful in predicting these student-athletes’ cumulative community college grade point averages, as well as retention rates and degree completion rates. Univariate analyses, along with linear and logistic regression methodologies, were employed to analyze the data and to answer the six research questions. The sample used for this study included baseball and softball players previously enrolled at three Alabama rural community colleges. Results indicated females, White student-athletes, those from a higher socioeconomic status, and student-athletes earning high school diplomas each outperformed their counterparts. Within all three regression models, gender was noted as a significant predictor, followed by socioeconomic status in two of the three regression analyses (cumulative community college grade point average and degree completion rates), then race and educational background in one analysis (retention rates and cumulative community college grade point average respectively).