Redshirting and academic performance : evidence from NCAA student-athletes
Wilkes, Ethan Charles
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Redshirting is common in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) athletics. Many student-athletes forgo playing time as true freshmen and extend their eligibility in order to develop physically before they suit up for their first game the following year. Although redshirting is widely used for athletic reasons, the academic effects of redshirting are unknown. Academic achievement is an area of interest for the NCAA. Student-Athletes in the 2007 cohort achieved a federal graduation rate (FGR) of 66 percent compared to the general student body's rate of 65 percent. Although student-athletes have a higher FGR than the general student body, athletes in the major revenue producing sports lag behind. Football players that attended Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools reached a FGR of 62 percent and athletes that played men's basketball at NCAA Division I schools earned an FGR of 47 percent. This paper uses individual-level data from SuperPrep Magazine and Montana State University (MSU) to examine the relationship between redshirting and academic performance. To address potential endogeneity, this thesis considers a propensity score matching (PSM) approach when using data from SuperPrep Magazine. PSM results indicate that selection bias is present in ordinary least squares (OLS) estimates, but that there are still substantial positive impacts of redshirting on graduation. OLS estimates using MSU data indicate there may be lagged benefits of redshirting on academic performance, although these results are not robust when a fixed-effects analysis is applied.