In general, research has demonstrated that student-athletes experience a variety of complexities related to their career development such as foreclosed options, role conflict, and lack of career maturity. When compared to the general college student population, student-athletes appear to be less career adaptable; however conclusions about the student-athlete population must be tentatitve. Despite research that demonstrates general delayed career development of the student-athlete populations, other research has reveealed that some student-athletes do suceed at career development tasks.
For this study, a student-athlete was defined a college student who participates on a varsity sport, is a starter on the team, and is on athletic scholarship (e.g. partial to full). This study used grounded theory study with no a priori hypotheses, as well as components of consensual qualitative reseach to explore the factors involved in the career development of the collegiate student-athlete. Using a naturalistic research paradigm, interviews were conducted on 8 female and 7 male student-athletes spanning the sports of basketball, soccer, volley ball(females only), and baseball (males only). The university was a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division-I AAA member institution. These student athletes were purposefully selected for their academic and athletic activities.
Sorting and coding of the data revealed the following nine themes: self-concept and others, family influences, peer socialization, selective role balance, adaptability, career attitude, career competence, self in relation to career, and career implementation. The sotries of these student athletes may provide some insight into the factors that influenced the career development and career decision difficulties of these 15 individuals. Student-athletes in this study varied both in their career readiness and in their identity development. The findings within this investigation related to the identity development and career development of student-athletes do not fully support the body of research that indicates college student-athletes, when compared to the general student population, lack career maturity and or are not career ready. In fact, the results lend evidence that student-athlete career development is more complex than previously though, which has not been accounted for by career development theory.