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Monday, November 30, 1998
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 68

Coogs Slip Past IUPUI

About the Cougar

'Revenue' athletes may not do as well in classroom

By Crissy Mcmartin
The Daily Iowan (U. of Iowa)

IOWA CITY, Iowa (U-WIRE) -- Athletes in college football and basketball -- the so-called "revenue sports" -- demonstrate less cognitive development in college compared to their peers, according to a recent study by a University of Iowa educational researcher.

The study, led by Ernest T. Pascarella, professor in the UI College of Education, indicates that among males, non-athletes and students involved in sports other than football and basketball will get more out of a college education.

Among female college students, athletes did as well in all areas of cognition except reading comprehension. Male students in sports other than basketball and football showed cognitive progression that was as good or better than non-athletes.

Although the study examined several variables that may account for the results, Pascarella, who is also the author of the book How College Affects Students, said the reason football and basketball players didn't perform as well on the tests as other students is still undetermined.

"It could be that these athletes are participating in a culture that eats up too much of their time or the enormous psychological pressure associated with these sports," Pascarella said. "The fact that these are the sports that generate the most money for the university is a little disconcerting."

Ed Rozell, a senior at UI who plays wide receiver for the school's football team and is a sprinter for the track and field team, said the increased pressure on athletes in revenue sports does affect their academic performance.

"In sports like football or basketball, there is a lot more depending on you," Rozell said. "You always have to be concentrating on the game."

He said that the amount of time athletics require can also take a toll.

"It sort of tires you knowing that you have a full night of homework waiting for you every night after four to five hours of practice," Rozell said.

Pascarella's study, which will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Higher Education, tracked more than 2,000 students at 18 four-year colleges in 15 states beginning in the fall of 1992.

Students who volunteered to participate in the study took standardized tests prepared by ACT so researchers could follow their cognitive development in their second and third years of college. Researchers analyzed the scores from areas such as writing skills, science, reading comprehension and critical thinking.

Though Pascarella said other studies examining the effect of intercollegiate athletics have yielded the same results, this is the largest of its kind and may confirm a disturbing trend.

"I think athletics provide students with a lot of good things," Pascarella said. "But these students don't seem to be getting as much as they should be from college."


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