Academic Clustering and Intercollegiate Baseball Programs: Do National Rankings Matter?

Steve Miller – Saint Mary’s College of California

With over a dozen published studies confirming the existence of academic clustering and an expose revealing the deleterious effect it can have on an institution (Smith and Willingham, 2015), recent investigations (Case, et al, 2017) have begun to explore reasons why athletes cluster into a limited number of academic majors and whether this phenomenon occurs outside of Division I athletics (Miller, 2021). The current study attempts to isolate one variable (national ranking) and explore its connection to academic clustering. The academic majors of 1410 intercollegiate baseball players from top ranked and lower ranked DI, DII, and DIII teams were obtained through athletics department websites. Chi-square analyses revealed that academic clustering was more frequent among highly ranked teams and it occurred more often in Division I baseball when compared to Division II and III. Results are discussed in terms of risk aversion, NCAA policies and initiatives designed to bolster academic success in DI athletics, and the 2015 comprehensive GOALS study conducted by the NCAA.