Student-athletes enter higher education in the United States with diverse backgrounds and academic preparation. In some cases, student-athletes are underprepared for the academic rigor, social structure, and ethical expectations of these institutions. Athletic coaches are charged with the recruitment of highly skilled, competitive, and prepared student-athletes, while other athletic officials are responsible to provide the proper academic support, care, and overall well-being of student-athletes. If coaches, athletic administrators, advisors, and learning specialists could identify educational and demographic patterns related to student-athletes' propensity to trust, they would be better equipped to gain these students' trust and help them navigate the stress related to athletic participation and academic demands. This quantitative study investigates the influence of individual student-athletes' propensity to trust and the relationship between academic success, measured by grade point average (GPA). This study also examines the relationship between propensity to trust and demographic and educational variables that may assist athletic coaches, athletic administrators, and athletic support staff, such as advisors and learning specialists, in better understanding the impact propensity to trust has on student-athletes. To determine propensity to trust, the current study used the validated Propensity to Trust Scale by Frazier, Johnson, and Fainshmidt (2013) as well as a demographic questionnaire developed to measure students' background and educational attributes. Responses to an online survey from 221 student-athletes were collected from a large, private research institution that participates in Division I National Collegiate Athletic Association athletics. Statistical analyses, including t-test, analysis of variance, and Fisher's Least Significant Difference post hoc test, were used to identify between-group differences, while multiple regression analyses identified differences in propensity to trust among demographic and educational variables. Findings indicate there was no significant differences in propensity to trust among scholarship and non-scholarship student-athletes, sex, or marital status, but significant differences did exist among student-athletes who are members of the church affiliated with the university, returned missionaries from the predominate religion, minority, and transfer students. In addition, differences in propensity to trust between different athletic teams were found. Finally, findings also indicate propensity to trust is related to current GPA. Implications from this study suggest that propensity to trust can be a valuable consideration when assessing how to provide proper support to current student-athletes. This research also suggests that a propensity to trust measure may be useful when recruiting prospective college student-athletes. Schools should not assume that propensity to trust is consistent among each team and each individual student-athlete.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Educational Leadership and Foundations



Date Submitted


Document Type





student-athlete, propensity to trust, higher education