The Impact of Academic Disruption on Stress Among College Athletes

Jill W. Lassiter – James Madison University
Amanda L. Campbell – Bridgewater College
Carrie W. LeCrom – Virginia Commonwealth University
Brendan Dwyer – Virginia Commonwealth University

Student-athletes are subject to high levels of stress due to their combined academic and athletic responsibilities, which can have a negative impact on health and academic performance. The COVID-19 global pandemic caused unparalleled academic disruption and increased stress for all college students. This study examined perceptions of academic stress specifically, both prior to and during the pandemic, and factors that contribute to increased stress levels. One-hundred forty-eight student-athletes from a division three institution completed a quantitative stress questionnaire prior to and during the pandemic. Results showed that females experience more academic stress than males, that stress increased significantly during the pandemic, and that GPA and hours spent studying were predictors of academic stress, while number of credits, sport season, and use of support services were not. This research indicates that support for academic stress management and academic performance is warranted and should target high risk groups, especially during times of academic disruption.