Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics
Special Issue
High Impact Practices in Intercollegiate Athletics

Anthony G. Weaver, Elon University

       Just over two years ago the Academic Alliance of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) requested proposals for the Innovate/Collaborate (IN/CO) Grant Program with the purpose of bringing CAA institutions together to engage faculty, staff, and students in meaningful initiatives that promote student success. Eight CAA member institutions joined faculty from Elon University to collect real time, multi-institutional data about student-athlete engagement strategies that increase participation in high impact practices (HIPs).It is widely known that student-athletes face unique challenges, specifically heavy time commitments to their sport including seasons that overlap multiple semesters and pressure to achieve athletic success, which can reduce access to and involvement in HIPs. It is clear that in order for student-athletes to participate in many HIPs, innovative approaches are needed. As our work is ongoing, preliminary findings show that institutions are aware of the many barriers to increasing access and participation for student-athletes. Although institutions differ in their approach to student athlete engagement, administrators acknowledge the need to prioritize experiences that best fit their population and resources.
       While our collaborative work continues within the conference we also wanted to increase our reach outside of the CAA. The idea for this special issue emerged from a conversation between myself and two other grant collaborators – Dr. Ellen J. Staurowsky (Drexel University) and Dr. Jessica Braunstein-Minkove (Towson University) – at the University of South Carolina College Sport Research Conference in April of 2019. As we brainstormed ideas on how to engage a broader community of scholars on the topic of college athletes and their access to high impact educational practices, we realized that the timing was right to put out a national invitation to scholars who were engaged in work on the topic. This special issue aims to bring attention to strategies being used to improve the impactful academic experiences of student athletes across the country. Our long term goal is to lead conversations that develop transferable solutions at the institutional, conference, and national levels. Our call, and our greatest challenge, is to allow greater access to impactful educational practices for student-athletes.
       The collaborations fostered as a part of this effort have been invaluable. I would like to extend a special thank you to the Colonial Academic Alliance, primary investigators Drs. Eric Hall and Caroline Ketcham (Elon) and James DeVita (UNCW), and all the scholars who continue to work tirelessly to create best practices for student-athlete engagement. I would also like to thank leaders from our CAA campuses, including our guest editors for this issue, Dr. Ellen Staurowsky, Dr. Jessica Braunstein-Minkove and Dr. David Shonk.
       On behalf of our guest editors and grant leaders, we hope that you find this special issue helpful as you work to improve the academic success of student athletes. I look forward to future conversations and the development of innovative strategies for student-athlete inclusion in high impact practices.