Are College Athletes Cheaters? What Do Division I Student-Athletes Report?

Mariya A. Yukhymenko-Lescroart – California State University, Fresno

Academic dishonesty is a serious and widespread problem; yet, very little is known about the academic dishonesty of Division I student-athletes. The purpose of this study was to examine the differences in self-reported academical dishonesty (assignment cheating, assignment plagiarism, and test cheating) in subgroups of Division I student-athletes based on most influential individual characteristics and contextual factors. Participants were a diverse sample of 872 varsity student-athletes from nine Division I institutions, both public and private, representing 13 different sports, both men’s and women’s, and 69 teams. Findings showed that the most at-risk for engagement in academic dishonesty Division I student-athletes are those who are: first generation, viewing their main reason for attending college as mostly athletics, majoring in business, low in their institutional commitment, and in high-profile men’s sports. Findings also showed no differences in the self-reported frequency of academic misconduct across recruitment status, academic year, athletic scholarship, and type of university. The implication of this work is that by understanding individual and contextual factors that are specific to student-athletes, staff working with student-athletes can be more prepared to prevent academic dishonesty.