An Examination of Culturally Responsive Programming for Black Student-Athletes’ Holistic Development at Division I Historically White Institutions (HWIs)

Shannon Jolly – University of Georgia
Joseph N. Cooper – University of Massachusetts- Boston
Jepkorir R. Chepyator-Thomson – University of Georgia

There are significant gaps in positive educational outcomes of Black student-athletes when compared to their peers. These gaps reflect deficits in culturally responsive support for the academic success and holistic development of Black student-athletes at historically White institutions (HWIs). While research has examined athletic academic support programs, there is limited attention towards programming efforts that consider the unique experiences and needs of Black student-athletes at HWIs. Discrepancies in Black student-athletes’ academic performance and graduation rates at Division I HWIs question the effectiveness of athletic academic support programs. The purpose of this manuscript is to examine literature on culturally responsive programming efforts at Division I HWIs. Utilizing the theoretical frameworks of critical race theory (CRT) (Bell, 1992; Crenshaw et al., 1995; Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995) and student involvement theory (Astin, 1984, 1999), a content analysis of publicly accessible information on support programs were analyzed to identify themes in programming efforts. Key findings revealed that while programs supported by the NCAA or athletic departments support Black student-athletes broadly, faculty-led programs are more likely to incorporate culturally responsive programming that stimulates positive educational outcomes and holistic development for this population of students. Implications for athletic departments and higher education professionals are discussed.