COVID-19 Distress in NCAA Division III Student-athletes

Katelin M. Valster – Central College
Kristen Cochrane-Snyman – Concordia University Chicago
Daniel Smith – Concordia University Chicago
Keith Jones – Central College

The aim of this study was to conduct a survey-based assessment of mental health symptoms among National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III student-athletes at a university during the COVID-19 pandemic. We sought to identify the severity of psychological distress during the fall academic semester, including a comparison of distress among gender and sport types, at a school who resumed in-person learning and preserved competition and practice sessions. A longitudinal, repeated measures design was implemented. Results indicated a significant increase in distress as the semester progressed (t(170) = 9.188, p < .001). Moreover, there was a significant difference in distress between genders at both time points (p < .001, p = .001, respectively), but only between sport types at the first data collection (p = .001). A univariate analysis of variance (ANOVA) determined a significant effect of time (p < .001), gender (p < .001), and sport (p = .008) on COVID distress as well as the interaction of gender and sport to significantly influence symptoms (p = .032). The results of this study suggest COVID-19 induced psychological distress is not stagnant and women student-athletes may be more susceptible. Colleges should consider screening student-athlete mental health to understand fluctuating, acute distress as well as symptoms that endure.