Enhancing the Value of the Student-Athlete Experience

malekoffThis year we are pleased to welcome Dr. Bob Malekoff to the EXSS faculty.  Dr. Malekoff plays an integral role as academic advisor in EXSS, while also teaching and conducting research in the Sport Administration area.  New to the EXSS faculty, Dr. Malekoff brings a wealth of experience in many aspects of higher education and education.  We are fortunate to have Dr. Malekoff as one of our many talented faculty members and in a very short time he has already began to make his EXSS Impact.  To learn more about Dr. Malekoff, please be sure to see his bio page: http://exss.unc.edu/faculty-staff/robert-malekoff/

Many thanks to Dr. Malekoff for providing this weeks EXSS Impact blog content where we highlight his research focused on identifying strategies to maximize the value of the student-athlete experience.

What is your primary area of interest in terms of teaching or research?

coiaMy primary area of focus is on the role intercollegiate athletics plays in American higher education. More specifically, I am particularly interested in how we can maximize educational value and opportunities for college athletes at all levels – Division I, II, and III. I work closely with colleges, universities, athletic conferences, and faculty groups such as the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics (COIA) to help them better integrate the efforts of three major campus dimensions – academics, athletics, and student life – with an eye toward building and supporting a culture that will support a well-rounded undergraduate experience for students participating on intercollegiate sports teams.

How did you become interested in this specific area?

collegesportprojectAs a college coach and later an athletic director, I sometimes sensed that intercollegiate athletics was moving in a potentially troubling direction. A changing culture and various pressures on athletes (perhaps particularly ever growing time demands) made it more difficult for them to not only devote adequate time to their academic work and co-curricular opportunities, but had a segregating effect in terms of their interaction with other students. In too many cases the “student-athlete” experience was becoming increasingly one-dimensional. My research indicated that this was not only a Division I, “big-time” sport phenomenon, but related challenges also existed at “small college” levels. When I moved to Boston to begin a Master’s program I became involved with the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University. I directed a national consortium of universities that sponsored degree completion programs for former college athletes and initiatives that reached out to inner city middle- and high school students hoping to promote the importance of academic and social growth. While at Northeastern I co-authored a book, On the Mark: Putting the Student Back in Student-Athlete, aimed at encouraging high school and college athletes to use their sports participation as a way to grow academically and socially. More recently I served as a Senior Advisor for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s College Sports Project, an initiative that grew out of two major research projects highlighting the need for college/university administrators, faculty, and coaches to work closely together in seeking enhanced institutional integration of students participating on sports teams.

How does your area of interest impact the public?

Intercollegiate athletics plays an undeniably significant role on campuses nationwide for the 420,000 student participants, countless others that follow and support teams, and for faculty and student life professionals charged with providing enriching educational opportunities. The challenge for those of us in higher education is in identifying and supporting efforts that will emphasize the educational value for participating students, and promote seamless alignment with university missions. These are particularly important goals when one factors in the significant resources – both financial and otherwise – that are devoted to sports programs in a time when colleges and universities are struggling to provide the most basic services. In addition, college sports does not exist in a vacuum, but rather it has a significant impact on the conduct of countless youngsters participating in youth and high school sports programs, and our work can play an important role in helping pre-college students embrace an understanding that the pursuit of athletic and academic success need not be mutually exclusive.