top of page
Small Grant Projects
ACC II Logo.png

Transition Experiences of ACC Student-Athletes


J.D. DeFreese, Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Avinash Chandran, Ph.D. MS (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Datalys Center for Sports Injury Research and Prevention

White Paper & Embedded Video Presentation

The NCAA requires exit interviews for all student-athletes as they leave (i.e., transition from) collegiate sport. However, there exists limited empirical evidence to inform the structure and content of these interviews, which restricts their impact on post-career health and well-being. This study adopts a two-phase research strategy to examine ACC student-athlete transition experiences including outcomes of mental, physical, social, and occupational functioning. Aim 1 examined student-athlete transition outcomes via an evidence-based, survey addendum to the standard of care exit interview in a sample of 57 ACC student-athletes. Aim 2 further probed these transition experiences via follow-up in a subsample of student-athletes (n=9). Results highlight the overall adaptive health-related quality of life outcomes of student-athletes sampled while highlighting key barriers and facilitators to the transition experience. Project deliverables include 1) a detailed analysis of ACC student-athlete transition outcomes and 2) evidence-based recommendations for ACC athletics exit survey procedures and transition resources.

How can Student-Athletes Utilize their Media Platforms for Systemic Change? Developing an Evidence-based Leadership Program for Strategic Social Justice Communication

White Paper

Research shows even though student-athletes often are highly motivated to contribute to their campus community (NCAA, 2014) and want to use their platform for social good (Kluch, 2021), they struggle to translate social values into social action (Gayles et al., 2012) and tend to be less engaged in political activities than their non-athlete peers (Hoffman et al., 2015). This study aimed to create an understanding of contemporary student-athletes’ engagement in activist efforts on social media to empower them to use their communicative platforms for social good. A preliminary inductive thematic analysis of data obtained from nine participants (*) yielded five higher-order themes capturing athletes’ experiences as they navigate various social media spaces for social and racial justice activism: (1) control of athletes’ social media engagement, (2) (social) media as a tool for dialogue on racial justice, (3) lack of protection and coping mechanisms, (4) negotiating self-presentation (s), and (5) moving beyond performative activism towards tangible actions.


Evan Frederick, Ph.D., University of Louisville

Yannick Kluch, Ph.D., Virginia Commonwealth University

 Letisha Engracia Cardoso Brown, Ph.D., University of Cincinnati

Tomika L. Ferguson, Ph.D., Virginia Commonwealth University

Meg Hancock, Ph.D., University of Louisville

Nina Siegfried, Ph.D., University of Louisville

Untitled design.png

Concluding College Careers: Athlete Transitions in the ACC

Eric Sabin, M.S., Clemson University


Brennan Burg, Ph.D., University of Mississippi

Michael Hutchinson, Ph.D., University of Memphis

Sarah Stokowski, Ph.D., Clemson University

White Paper & Embedded Video Presentation

Many student-athletes are not prepared to adapt to a life beyond sport; however, those who are prepared for sport retirement report an easier experience. Although research has focused on the experiences of athletes adapting to transition, few studies have been dedicated to understanding how institutions support athletes’ transition out of intercollegiate sport. This study strived to understand how the ACC and ACC member institutions are preparing college athletes to transitioning out of their competitive careers. Through qualitative inquiry, 9 ACC institutions (as well as the ACC conference office) took part in semi-structured interviews. A multi-coder constant comparison analysis identified several themes related to policies and programming offered by ACC institutions as well as recommendations from individual career development staff. Throughout the interviews, athletic department staff emphasized student-athlete programming efforts at different development levels, but effectiveness in assisting student-athlete transition was found most commonly in the relationships built by student-athlete development staff and continual touch-points through the developmental phases that student-athletes follow in their path to finding their self and identity beyond sport. The results of this study may assist the ACC in providing resources and refining practices to ensure student-athletes experience an efficient transition out of sport.

Putting Athletes First: An Empirical Examination of the Hedonic Well-Being of College Student-Athletes in Response to NIL

Thomas E. Henry, Florida State University


Susmit S. Gulavani, Florida State University


Carter Floyd, Florida State University


James Du, Ph.D., Florida State University


N. David Pifer, Florida State University

Untitled design (1).png

White Paper & Embedded Video Presentation

The present research responds to the calls for an increased need for empirical research on the well-being of student-athletes in the era of NIL. The purpose was to examine the impact of NIL policy on hedonic well-being of student-athletes. The study obtains data from Twitter profiles of 370 student-athletes from January 2021 to December 2021 to examine the elicitation of joy and anger as indicators of hedonic well-being. By leveraging a natural language processing-based decomposition sentiment analysis coupled with difference-in-differences analysis, findings indicate that student-athletes competing in women’s sports experience marginally more joy and anger compared to student-athletes participating in other men’s sports, men’s basketball, and football after the NIL policy implementation. Findings reveal a double-edge impact associated with the NIL policy implementation, with decrease in joy indicating concerns about the policy’s potential detrimental effects on student-athletes and a decrease in anger indicating optimism about opportunities presented by the policy.

Census of Athlete Monitoring Practices by ACC Varsity Athletic Teams

White Paper & Embedded Video Presentation - Coming Soon

Jay Hertel, PhD, ATC, University of Virginia


Natalie Kupperman, M.Ed., ATC, University of Virginia


Michael Curtis, MEd, CSCSUniversity of Virginia

bottom of page