The NCAA has announced six grant awards dedicated to enhancing college athletes’ psychological well-being and mental health as part of its NCAA Innovations in Research and Practice Grant Program.

Research teams from a number Boise State and Illinois State, Embry-Riddle, Kentucky, Lock Haven, Oklahoma State and Sacramento State will receive grants totalling $100,000 for their studies.

The grant winners were selected by a panel of athletics administrators, scholars, student-athletes, a mental health clinician, a student affairs professional and a faculty athletics representative. In all, the panel reviewed 87 proposals.

Among the award winners, the University of Kentucky team will reportedly work on developing a student-athlete well-being scale.

“The purpose of our project is to create a culturally and developmentally appropriate measure for college student-athletes that has the capacity to serve as both a screening and treatment outcome measure,” said UK graduate student Rena Goodwin, a member of the research team. “The project will consist of three phases that include student-athlete and athletic staff input on content domains, follow-up feedback on the resulting measure, and an initial psychometric evaluation.”

Oklahoma State researchers will focus on the development, implementation and evaluation of an entry-level academic orientation course designed for incoming international student-athletes.  

“International student-athletes represent a large portion of the student body,” said OSU researcher Dr. Tim Baghurst. “Oklahoma State University is no exception, where 348 international student-athletes from 59 countries have matriculated through the university over the past 25 years, the majority within the past decade. Unfortnuately, many international athletes arrive on American campuses in sporting and academic environments where little support is provided.”

Sacramento State’s project will focus on boosting resilience in student-athletes by creating podcasts featuring current and former student-athletes speaking on a variety of topics.

“We plan on completing a podcast series with episodes on six pertinent themes which will hit on the topics that there isn’t always a lot of discussion on including injury, redshirting, transferring, and letting go of the athlete identity,” said Bethany Crouch, who wrote the grant. “This pilot will have the goal of producing a blueprint in hopes that NCAA member institutions can recreate this programming on their own campuses.”

The research teams from Boise State and Illinois State, Embry-Riddle, and Lock Haven will focus on creating a first-year student-athlete transition program, creating a gamified online platform to support career readiness, and online social media literacy, respectively.

The researchers will present their findings in January at the NCAA Convention.

Jason Scott is Online Managing Editor of Athletic Business.