“Will I be able to get a job?”

Differentiate your university through your athletiscape

STUDENT-ATHLETE

College Choice Study 2020

The most important variable to student-athletes when selecting a college is their perception that a degree from the institution will help them get a good job after their playing career ends. And, the second and third most important variables are related—”majors of interest” and “academic reputation.”

Of the 650 athletes surveyed, 65 percent were from the big three sports (football, basketball and baseball).

Advent

Advent, in partnership with the Samford University Center for Sports Analytics, commissioned an annual independent nationwide study of NCAA Division I student-athletes and parents to determine what influences their decision in college choice.  These are some of the findings from 2020.

The research from this year’s Student-Athlete College Choice Study evaluates the relevance of four major recruiting themes as they relate to Generation Z.

The 2020 Study

This independent research sought to discover the drivers that influence decision-making among recruits. Similar to in years past, the findings indicate that recruits use tangibles in the campus environment to evaluate their intangible criteria. Recruits use what they feel to shape what they know to inform their choice of college.

The 2020 study confirmed many of the findings from previous years, but it also showed emerging trends.

Academic Success

The academic success recruitment theme is effective because student-athletes aim to put their best foot forward and craft their self-brand by utilizing their “university brand” to connect to their aspirational groups. Generation Z is drawn to schools they perceive to have an excellent academic reputation and a successful track record of helping former student-athletes land a good job. This improves their social brand connection.

2

OF NCAA DIVISION I SCHOOLS EMPHASIZE ACADEMIC SUCCESS IN THEIR RECRUITING STRATEGY

54

OF DIVISION I PROGRAMS HAVE NO CLEAR RECRUITMENT THEME

Business Majors Maintain Lead

For the second consecutive year, the most popular major for Division I student-athletes is Business & Economics.

1

Business & Economics

25.5% of student-athletes enroll in these majors.
2

Health Care

18.9% of student-athletes enroll in these majors.
3

All other areas of study

Pre-Law, Education, Engineering, Biological Sciences, Sports Management and Psychology are all tied for 3rd most popular majors among Division I student-athletes.

Okay, now what are the next best headliners?

PUT ME IN, COACH

Playing time and relationship with coach are key. When considering athletic-specific determinants, student athletes ranked the relationship with the head coach and the opportunity to play as two of the top three factors when choosing their school. This is consistent with previous year’s research as these two factors have remained in the top three for the past three years.

DISTANCE FROM HOME

College basketball players prioritize distance from home much more than football players. In athletic-specific determinants, distance from home ranks No. 3 over the past three years compared to No. 8 for football players.

While comparing recruiting pitches for basketball and football players, athletic departments should invest in the development of spaces that feel like home. It would also be wise to invest in the player family spaces that could be used to give basketball players’ parents “VIP” type experiences when they come to campus to watch games.

ATHLETIC TRADITIONS HOLD STEADY RANK

Athletic traditions continue to exhibit a low standard deviation and a mean rank at the same level as win/loss record. It is important to incorporate unique athletic tradition elements into the recruitment center in ways that connect with the new generation of student-athletes.

CAMPUS SAFETY

Campus safety is an enduring trait for female student-athletes and is not likely to change in the future.

ACADEMIC SUPPORT

Academic support rises above opportunity to play and relationship with the head coach for female student-athletes.

RECRUITING FOCUS

An athletic success recruitment theme is more effective for basketball players, while an academic recruitment theme caters more to football players.

people

THE CENTENNIALS

Centennials or Generation Z, were born after 1997. They are in the thick of their college experience. This is a pragmatic generation who sees college as a tool in their journey for self-actualization. After seeing their parents struggle, they demand a college experience that will guarantee financial security.

They are also digital natives who use social media to shape their public persona and a personal brand. When they point their phones at something, they do so to say something about themselves.

A selfie is a tell-tale sign you’re sending the right message.

Consider these 4 Takeaways

1

“I love my sport but how does being on this team help me after my playing career ends?”
2

“I’ve heard a lot about this university’s academic reputation. I want to learn more about that.”
3

“My main interest in this team is coach. We have a great relationship.”
4

“Wow, your sports facilities are fantastic. But what about the business school?”

Now What?

Athletic departments should include a detailed discussion of student-athletes’ post-playing career job successes as part of the recruiting process. A section of the recruitment center should be designated to highlight former player’s successes through displays and story-telling elements. Athletic departments should consider partnering with key academic units that house popular student-athlete majors in the recruitment process.

About the Study

Dr. Darin White, the executive director of the Samford University Center for Sports Analytics and Chair of the Entrepreneurship, Management & Marketing Department, has conducted the College Choice Study and Student-Athlete College Choice Study annually since 2016.

For 2020, Dr. White and his team surveyed 650 NCAA Division I student-athletes. Dr. White also conducted gender- and sport-specific focus groups of 7-10 Division I freshman student-athletes and Division I recruits in their senior year of high school.

Still wanting more?

Let us know how to get in touch and we’ll send you a copy of the 2020 College Choice Study to share with your team.