The purpose of the current study was to test a model that considered factors impacting the career maturity of student-athletes, particularly the relationship between role conflict, athletic identity, and career-related distress, and their effect on career maturity. The participants were 200 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I (NCAA) student-athletes from two universities. Participants were asked to complete a consent form, demographic questionnaire, Part II of the Student-Athlete Questionnaire (Perrin, 1988), Athletic Identity Measurement Scale (Brewer, Van Raalte, & Linder, 1993), Career Thoughts Inventory (Sampson, Peterson, Lenz, Reardon, & Saunders, 1996), and Vocational Identity (VI) scale from My Vocational Situation (Holland, Daiger, & Power, 1980a).
Results indicated that there is a weak positive correlation between role conflict and career-related distress which means that increases in role conflict correspond to increases in career-related distress. In addition, there was a very weak positive correlation between role conflict and athletic identity, as well as role conflict and career-related distress. In the proposed model, 55% of the variance of career maturity was accounted for by role conflict, athletic identity, and career-related distress; however, career-related distress was the only variable that significantly predicted career maturity. The current study found that females reported higher levels of role conflict; however the findings did not find support for gender differences in athletic identity or career-related distress. No significant differences were found across the four years of undergraduate study for role conflict, athletic identity, and career-related distress. In addition, differences did not emerge on role conflict, athletic identity, and career-related distress between student-athletes participating in revenue and non-revenue producing sports.
Future research could focus on other factors influencing the career development of student-athletes compared with the experiences of other college students, career development within different sports, and opportunities for creative interventions with the student-athlete population.