The purpose of this study was to understand the experiences of college athletes who were directly impacted by their institution’s pursuit of gaining membership to a different NCAA division (i.e., divisional reclassification). More specifically, this study sought to understand specific changes that accompany the Division III to Division II transition, which include: 1) divisional philosophy, 2) financial aid, 3) level of competition, 4) athletically related activities, and 5) academic standards. Conceptually, this study was guided by the stress appraisal and coping process. The Brief COPE inventory of coping responses was applied as a framework from which to understand how college athletes coped with the financial, athletic, and academic changes to the college athlete experience. Research participants were Division III college athletes who reclassified with their athletic program to become Division II college athletes, and who participated in semi-structured interviews that allowed for rich descriptions of their experiences through the reclassification process to be captured. Findings suggest that reclassification was a relative stressor meaning that the process was perceived as stressful by some but not all the reclassifying college athletes interviewed. In coping with the relative stresses, college athletes demonstrated a greater tendency to engage in emotion-focused coping, which included the venting of emotional distress. More specialist support services are proposed to encourage more problem-focused coping responses among affected college athletes.



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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License