College Athletes and Crime: The Role of Race, Age, and Peers and the Implications for Social Work Practice in College Sports

Emmett L. Gill, Jr – University of Texas at Austin


Almost every other day there is a news story about a college athletes’ involvement in an alleged crime. Indeed, one Sports Illustrated investigation found that, over an eight-month period in 2010, the number of crimes committed by college athletes averaged one every other day (Benedict, 2010). The current study is a secondary data analysis of a sample of 371 media articles documenting the arrests of college athletes between 2010 and 2015. The current study explores differences in the mean number of crimes committed by college athletes’ according to their classification, the number of perpetrators, and the perpetrators’ race across seven different crime categories. The results did not yield any significant differences across classification or number of perpetrators. However, the results indicated White college athletes committed significantly more property and drug related crimes when compared to Black college athletes. The paper will close with a discussion on how athletic departments think about a) the vulnerability of White college athletes, b) utilizing cost of attendance stipends to deter property crimes, c) removing responsibility for disciplinary decisions for college athletes from athletics, and d) including social workers in counseling and case management services for college athletes.