The Academic Experience of African-American Male Student-Athletes

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Virginia Tech


This paper explores the academic experience of former African-American student-athletes who have graduated from Virginia Tech. Student-athletes choose to attend college for many different reasons and once enrolled, they often face challenges such as time management. Academic support centers have developed throughout the country at various institutions to assist student-athletes with the academic challenges that they may face. Through interviews with former student-athletes, this paper was developed to answer two research questions: What experiences have positively impacted African-American male student-athletes’ academic success and graduation? And, what support initiatives and/or programs have student-athlete support offices implemented at Virginia Tech to support African-American male student-athletes? Seven former student-athletes were interviewed in this study and results show that the majority of those interviewed chose to attend Virginia Tech to play basketball and to receive a strong education. The biggest challenge faced by student-athletes was time management. The most utilized resources were: academic advisors, professors, tutoring, and relationships with coaches, teammates, and others. All of the student-athletes interviewed had a positive experience at Virginia Tech and were pleased with their decision to obtain a degree. In terms of the programming for African-Americans, common themes were that they did not want to be stereotyped. Implications and recommendations based on this research include continuing to support the African-American student-athlete population by developing relationships with them.