Student Athlete Case Studies

Academic Advising Case Studies
Administration Case Studies (EDCEP 837)
Guiding Questions
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Choose one case study below. The other two cases studies should be from Academic Advising Case Studies.

The cases below are for Spring 2023 and Summer 2023 Graduates. Cases will be updated for Fall 2023. 

Case of Lisa

Lisa is an 18-year-old White women’s basketball player at a Division I public institution. She is a first-generation student from a rural area with a 2.7 GPA at the end of her first semester. When Lisa entered State University she was unsure of a major and has been listed as General Studies for the fall term. Lisa’s parents maintain contact with her academic counselor, Frank, a Latino, and have let him know how important it is to them that Lisa be successful at State University so that she can go on to play in the WNBA. Frank made a note in Lisa’s file that her parents did much of the talking when Lisa came to enroll in fall classes over the summer.

At the beginning of the second semester Lisa meets with Frank to discuss her major. Frank is optimistic that Lisa has found something that interests her. When she arrives for the appointment, she is intense and very serious.

“I want to declare a major in engineering,” Lisa stated. She tells Frank about the girl in her dorm who told her and her roommate about all of the scholarships for women who major in engineering.

“My athletic scholarship doesn’t cover all my expenses and there’s no way I can work, go to school, and play basketball. So I want to apply for the engineering scholarships. My parents expect me to have a pro basketball career, but now that I’m here, I don’t know if I’m good enough. There is a lot of competition here. I don’t know if I’ll make the WNBA. But I hear that engineers make a lot of money. So I want to become an engineer,” she tells Frank.

Frank nods. “Yes, many engineers do end up in high salary jobs. And, by the way, I saw you play in the game last week. It looks like you are holding your own against the college competition.”

Lisa smiles and relaxes a little.

“But let’s talk about the engineering majors. Most of the engineering programs require a lot math. Do you enjoy math?”

Lisa admits that she doesn’t really enjoy math.

Frank is looking at Lisa’s academic profile showing her ACT math score of 15, and her composite score of 21. Her high school math classes included Algebra I, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Statistics. The results on the university’s math placement exam place Lisa in Remedial Algebra. Her high school science grades included one B, one C, and two D’s. Most of her science credits from high school were in agricultural courses. On paper, Lisa’s academic strengths appear to be in English and the social sciences.

Adapted from Case Scenarios by Carrie Leger

Case of Joanna

Joanna is a 21-year-old Latina women’s golfer. She has exhausted her athletics eligibility, needs 12 hours to graduate, and currently has a 2.3 GPA in sociology. She just found out she failed the final in her sociology statistics course. She meets with her academic counselor Tina, an African-American, stating that she is tired of going to school and misses participating in sport but knows she is not good enough to go pro.

“I just want a break.” Joanna tells Tina.

Tina knows that sociology was not Joanna’s first choice of majors. Tina has been Joanna’s academic counselor since her freshman year. When Joanna came to the university as a freshman, she wanted to major in education. But after a difficult first semester of adjusting to college Joanna lacked the required GPA to enter the College of Education and she selected sociology because a teammate was majoring in sociology. Tina’s previous attempts to get Joanna to think about careers after graduation fell on deaf ears, as Joanna’s focus was on her sport. Tina empathizes with Joanna. As a former college athlete herself she remembers how hard it is to give up the sport that has been part of your life for so long.  Tina also knows how important a college degree will be for Joanna and how much it will mean to Joanna’s family, whom Tina has gotten to know over the years.

Adapted from case scenarios by Carrie Leger

Case of Trey

Trey is an African-American offensive lineman in his second year at a large public predominately White university. Trey purposefully sits in the front row of each of his classes; he does not wear the team sweat suits to class and he makes a point to visit individually with each instructor every semester. He currently has a 4.0 GPA which he is wants to maintain. He visits his European History instructor during her office hours to get feedback on his response to a practice essay test question. She reads his practice response to the questions and provides him with positive feedback. They talk for a while longer; she asks where he is from and how he chose the university. He reveals that he is a member of the college football team. When Trey gets his grade on his European History exam, he is upset that he only earned a C. Two of the sample test questions he discussed with his instructor were on the exam and his test answers was very similar to his practice responses; yet, he scored only 12 out of 20 possible points on each question with no explanation as to why he did not earn all points. He immediately believes it is because she learned he was an athlete. He goes straight from the classroom to his academic counselor, Ashley.

“She thinks that just because she is the instructor she can get away with this. But this isn’t right. She lowered my score just because I’m an athlete. What can we do about this?”

Ashley knows that Trey is proud of his 4.0 GPA and has a goal to maintain that throughout his college career. In previous conversations she has been encouraging but also cautions him on the difficulty of maintaining such a high standard. If Trey’s European History instructor does have a bias against athletes, there is little that she and or Trey can do about it. His final grade in the class could jeopardize his perfect GPA. Also, Trey is a history major and he may fear that he will have to take additional classes from this instructor. As an undergraduate tutor, Ashley had another athlete tell her about a similar experience. As a young White college student just becoming aware of the reality of racism and bias, she completely agreed with the student and encouraged the student to take action. That proved to be a mistake, one that Ashley does not want to make again. She empathizes with Trey and wants to help him sort out all possible sides to this issue before deciding on the best course of action. She asks, “Did you talk with your instructor about the grade?”

“No. I was too mad when I first saw the grade,” Trey said.

“Well, the first thing I would like you to do is make an appointment with the instructor and let her explain how she came up with the grade. Then come back and let’s talk about the situation.”

The Case of Jo

Jo, a 19-year-old sophomore volleyball player, was referred by her athletic academic advisor, Chris, to visit a psychologist from the campus counseling center who works closely with intercollegiate athletics. Chris described Jo as a “great kid” who was a “bit scatterbrained at times.” She told the psychologist in a heads-up phone call that Jo had had a “rotten fall semester.” Her team coach and Chris were requiring Jo to meet with the psychologist to see if she had some sort of learning disability. In addition to the poor grades, Jo was unsure of a college major, insisting that she wanted to major in “business” but was not showing the aptitude to complete the required prerequisite math courses for a business major. Jo arrived 20 minutes late for the appointment with the psychologist. She was not particularly forthcoming about her struggles and seemed somewhat embarrassed to be meeting with a psychologist. A screening interview pointed to the possibility of significant problems with math and possible ADHD. Upon hearing this unofficial report from the psychologist, Jo’s athletic academic advisor must develop a plan to provide Jo with the assistance she needs to be successful in college.

The Case of Ben

Ben is a sophomore elite wrestler at an urban state university. During practice early in the wrestling season, his wrestling partner landed on his leg. Ben winced in pain and had a tough time standing up.  An athletic training graduate assistant quickly came to his aid. He was assisted to the training room where the head trainer diagnosed a high ankle sprain. A week later Katie, the athletic academic advisor for the wrestling team, notices that Ben has been unusually irritable, spending mandatory study hall alone – often sleeping – instead of studying with friends or his tutors. Katie is aware of Ben’s injury and decides to ask him how things are going.

He shrugged without saying anything to her.

“Is your ankle getting better?” She asked.

“No.” He sounded very upset.

“What do the trainers say?”

He shrugged again.

“Did you get treatment today?”

He shook his head. “I haven’t gone this week. It’s not helping anyway.”

“It takes time,” Katie reassured him.

“I don’t have time. The season will be half over before I can get back out there. What’s the use?”

Katie has seen this type of frustration with injuries in other athletes. She knows it will be a process to help Ben cope with the injury, and work with his trainer to get better. She talks with him a bit more and then encourages him to stop by her office tomorrow after his classes and before lunch to talk more about what lies ahead for him. Meanwhile, she mentally maps out a plan to get Ben back on track.

What are the factors that Katie will need to consider to help Ben? Who might she get involved in the process?


Hamilton, L. C. (2009). Counseling student-athletes with learning disabilities. In Etzel, E. F. (Ed), Counseling and psychological services for college student-athletes. Morgantown, WV:Fitness Information Technology.

Tunick, R., Clement, D., Etzel, E.F., (2009). Counseling injured and disabled student-athletes: A guide for understanding and intervention. In Etzel, E. F. (Ed), Counseling and psychological services for college student-athletes. Morgantown, WV:Fitness Information Technology.

Questions to Guide the Conceptualization and Development of Case Studies

The questions presented below are intended to serve as a guide and help with ideas in preparing your discussion of the case. The case study is to be presented in paragraph form; the questions are not to be answered individually in your presentation.

  1. What does the information given tell you about the issues for the student and the type of help he or she might need?
  2. What are possible issues that need to be addressed by the student?
  3. What are goals that might apply to the student?
  4. What decisions might need to be made (either by the advisor or the student)?
  5. What theory or theories could be used to help understand the student’s situation and how do these help in developing advising interventions or strategies with the student?
  6. What research could be used to inform your advising with the student? How does this apply to working with the student?
  7. How would you go about helping or advising the student? What type of advising approach would you take with the student and why?
  8. What resources would you recommend for the student?
  9. What additional information would be helpful to know?
  10. To what extent do diversity or multicultural issues need to be considered with the student? What are considerations related to this?
  11. What are key considerations that would guide your advising with the student?
  12. Should a referral be considered? If so, provide a recommendation and a rationale for the recommendation?
  13. What university policies might need to be explained to the student?

Academic Advising Case Studies
Administration Case Studies (EDCEP 837)
Guiding Questions
Return to Final Project page

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