Psychology Ph.D. Dissertations


Social Networks of NCAA Division I College Athletes: Relationships Between Network Structure, Personal Goal Orientation, and Well-Being Correlates

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Catherine Stein, Ph.D. (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

Robert Carels, Ph.D. (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Jennifer Gillespie, Ph.D. (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Vikki Krane, Ph.D. (Committee Member)


Although there have been numerous studies published on athletes and topics related to alcohol consumption, motivation, personal goal orientation, competition anxiety, and performance, very few studies have examined the social networks of college athletes or the role that these relationships have in the lives of these athletes. The present study examined relationships between self-reports of social networks, personal goal orientation, personal growth related to being an athlete, mood state, and alcohol usage in a sample of 169 college student-athletes, aged 18-26, who competed at the NCAA Division I athletic level. Results indicated that gender, ethnicity and sport group (team sport or individual sport) were related to differences in network composition. Findings suggested that perceptions of personal growth, mood state, and alcohol usage and related behaviors were related to network variables that include total network size, time spent with friends face-to-face, total helping network size, help given network size, and help reciprocity network size. Task orientation scores were positively related to reciprocal support relationships, time spent with family on the telephone, and personal growth. Total help reciprocity network size accounted for the variability in self reports of personal growth over and above gender. Implications for working with college student-athletes and future research directions are discussed.