The Effects of Perceived Racial Discrimination and Racial Identity on the Academic Self-Concept of African American Male College Athletes

Date of Completion

January 2011


Psychology, Social|Education, Educational Psychology




Research on the graduation rates of specific demographic groups indicates that African American male student-athletes are not graduating at the same rate as their peers (Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports, 2009). In addressing the issue of graduation rates, scholars cite that attendance at predominantly white institutions (PWIs) is influential to the academic achievement of African American male student-athletes because they are subject to racial discrimination on college campuses (Hyatt, 2003) and racial discrimination has negative effects on academic achievement (Thomas, Caldwell, Faison, & Jackson, 2009). Given that research has linked academic self-concept and academic achievement for African American male college students (Spurgeon & Meyers, 2003) but a racially discriminatory college environment is damaging to academic achievement and identity variables influence perceptions of discrimination (Sellers & Shelton, 2003), the purpose of this study was to investigate the relationships between identity variables (i.e. racial and athletic identity), environmental factors (i.e. racial discrimination) and academic outcomes (i.e. academic self-concept and GPAs). To this end, online survey research was used to gather data from African American male student-athletes in order to examine the above relationships. ^ Participants were 168 African American male student-athletes at Division 1 predominately White institutions (PWIs). Data analyses consisted of 1-sample t-tests and moderated hierarchical regression analyses, with analyses being conducted in two parts. Part I found that African American male student-athletes report experiencing racial discrimination in an academic setting. Moreover, Part I found that the racial identity variables of centrality and the public regard racial were significant predictors of athletic and academic racial discrimination. Athletic identity variables were not significant predictors of racial discrimination. ^ Part II found that racial discrimination was a significant predictor of academic achievement as measured by GPA. Athletic discrimination and differential academic treatment positively influenced academic achievement but academic differential effect negatively influenced academic achievement. Finally, the racial identity variable of private regard moderated the relationship between academic racial discrimination and GPA. The results of the study are discussed and contextualized with the larger body of literature examining the academic achievement of African American male student-athletes. ^