National Survey of Sports Teams
Appendix III: Methodology

The study used two survey instruments: one for student athletes and one for coaches and administrators. The surveys were mailed directly to all respondents. The survey returned a standard response rate of 23% on the average over all respondents: student athletes, coaches, and administrators. The surveys were optically scanned at National Computer Systems, Inc., and the database transferred onto a secure server at Alfred University.

Survey Instruments
Two survey instruments were developed: for student athletes and for senior administrators and coaches. The surveys were nearly identical, with editorial changes appropriate to the respondents and with minor differences in selected questions. Each survey includes four sections:

  • Background. This section included questions on the demographic background of the individual and the campus, including participation in Greek social organizations, sports coached or played, and whether the campus is in a state with an anti-hazing law.
  • Hazing. This section opened with a definition of hazing given for respondents to use in answering the questions: Hazing is any activity expected of someone joining a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers, regardless of the person's willingness to participate. This does not include activities such as: rookies carrying the balls, team parties with community games, or going out with your teammates, unless an atmosphere of humiliation, degradation, abuse, or danger arises. Respondents were asked a number of questions: the attitude of the athletic department towards hazing, if they had ever been involved in hazing, and how pervasive they felt hazing is on campus. They were also asked whether they would report hazing, and, if not, why.
  • Team-building and Initiation Activities. Student athletes were asked if they were involved in or suspected any of twenty-four specific initiation activities. Administrators were asked if they have known about or suspected any of these same activities. All respondents were asked if they thought that the activities were traditional, required, appropriate, inappropriate, or done when drinking alcohol.
  • Strategies for Preventing Hazing. Respondents were asked if any of 11 specific hazing prevention strategies were used on their campus and how effective they rated each of these strategies. An open-ended question requested suggestions for alternative bonding and recognition activities or hazing prevention strategies considered most effective.

Respondents
The NCAA provided the names and addresses of the athletic directors, senior women's administrators, and their National Student Athlete Advisory Committee members. Higher Education Publications, Inc., provided the names and addresses of the senior student affairs officers from their 1999 Higher Education Directory. Collegiate Directories, Inc. provided a national random sample of coaches of NCAA sports teams. Presidents of all NCAA institutions were invited to join in this study by providing a contact person from whom to obtain the names and addresses of student athletes on their campus. Although the letter went out at a difficult time of year - early December 1998- nearly one-fourth of all NCAA institutions (224) provided athletes' names and addresses by the deadline of January 20, 1999. An additional 120 institutions wished to participate but were not able to provide student names and addresses by the given deadline.

The survey reflected the full range of institutions across the nation, from large public universities to small private colleges. The distribution of NCAA institutions that provided student athlete names and addresses paralleled the national distribution of all NCAA institutions across all three NCAA divisions. Southern Division I participation was slightly lower than the national percentage and Eastern Division III participation was slightly higher.

Distribution of All NCAA Institutions

Region Division I Division II Division III Total
Eastern 7% 6% 21% 34%
Midwestern 5% 5% 9% 19%
Southern 12% 11% 6% 29%
Western 6% 7% 5% 18%
Total 30% 29% 41% 100%

Distribution of Participating Institutions

Region Division I Division II Division III Total
Eastern
6%
5%
26% 37%
Midwestern
5%
4%
9% 18%
Southern
8%
13%
8% 29%
Eastern
6%
5%
5% 16%>
Eastern
25%
27%
48% 100%

The 224 institutions submitted the names of 61,258 male and female students. A national random sample of 10,000 student athletes was taken from this pool. Each selected athlete was mailed a survey form and a no-postage-necessary, business reply envelope. Only one mailing went out to ensure no duplication in the respondents. Anonymous direct mail was critical to this study since many people hesitate to report experiences they think will reflect badly on them, their team, or their school. Surveys were mailed January 26-29, 1999, to the groups listed below.

Respondent Groups, Number of Each Group Surveyed, Number of Surveys Returned, and Response Rate Per Group

Respondents # Sent # Returned
All NCAA Athletic Directors 1,014 304 / 30%
All VPs or Dean of Student Affairs for institutions 1,034 228 / 22%
All NCAA Student Athlete Advisory Committee members 86 27 / 31%
All NCAA Senior Women's Administrators 234  
Random sample of all NCAA coaches 3,000 939 / 29%
Random sample of student athletes from 223 NCAA institutions 10,000 2,009 / 20%
Total surveys 15,368 3,507 / 23%

Response Rates and Distribution of Student Athletes
Response rates shown above were respectable at 20% - 31%. The student response rate of 20% was quite high given that students move frequently, many surveys were returned, and more were certainly undelivered. The response rate from senior student affairs officers at 22% was standard for direct mail surveys. Response rates from athletic directors and NCAA National Student Athlete Advisory Committee members were high at 30% and 31% respectively.

The response rates for coaches and senior women's administrators were merged. Surveys were sent to all 234 senior women's administrators registered with the NCAA and to a national random sample of 3,000 coaches. The response from senior women's administrators was 204 and from coaches was 735. We assume that many of the coaches identified themselves as senior women's administrators, but were not necessarily registered with the NCAA as such. Because of this we merged these two groups. This added 10% non-random selection of 234 names to the random sample of coaches. Descriptive results were still of interest. Of the two groups combined, the 29% response rate was high.

The student athlete sample was large enough to contain a strong representation of both gender and NCAA division. Response rates for men and women, however, were inverted: men composed 43% of the respondents as opposed to 61% of the population of student athletes, and women composed 57% of the respondents as opposed to 39% of the population of student athletes. Response rates were also inverted for Division I and Division III: Division I comprised 29% of the respondents as opposed to 42% of the population of student athletes, and Division III comprised 49% of the respondents as opposed to 37% of the population of student athletes. These inversions were taken into account throughout the analysis.

Total Number of NCAA Registered Athletes and % of Total Athletes Compared to Total Number of Respondents & % of Total Respondents by NCAA Division & Gender

Division Male Female Total % Male Female Total %
I 84507 52154 136661 42% 219 351 570 29%
II 43713 26162 69875 21% 195 221 416 22%
III 72407 49893 122300 37% 425 525 950 49%
Total 200627 128209 328836   839 1097 1936  
  61% 39%     43% 57%    

Student athlete response rates by sport generally matched the distribution of athletes across sports. Many institutions noted that they did not include the track team in the January 20th submission deadline for the survey, since it's a spring sport. We knew representation in track would be low. Football and cross-country were the only fall sports for which the response rate was lower than their proportional share. This low response rate calls into question a response bias for football and cross country teams. As secretive as hazing can be, underreporting is a real concern and possibility. The response rate for swimming was quite high. Soccer was also somewhat high.

Total Number of NCAA Registered Athletes and % of Total Athletes Compared to Total Number of Respondents & % of Total Respondents by NCAA Division & Gender

  Population   Sample  
Sport
Male
Female
Total
%
Male
Female
Total
%
Baseball
24442
0
24442
7.56
121
0
121
5.42
Basketball
15141
13392
28533
8.83
55
119
175
7.79
Cross Country
10271
10141
20412
6.32
101
101
202
9.04
Fencing
657
558
1215
0.38
3
4
7
0.31
Football
53984
0
53984
16.7
208
0
208
9.31
Golf
7197
2323
9520
2.95
46
29
75
3.36
Gymnastics
413
1311
1724
0.53
0
14
14
0.63
Ice Hockey
3608
436
4044
1.25
12
11
23
1.03
Lacrosse
5705
4068
9773
3.02
32
47
79
3.54
Rifle
408
0
408
0.13
2
0
2
0.09
Rowing
1820
3951
5771
1.79
12
54
66
2.95
Skiing
575
455
1030
0.32
4
12
16
0.72
Soccer
17053
14829
31882
9.78
105
180
285
12.76
Softball
0
13167
13167
4.07
0
146
146
6.54
Swimming
7508
8745
16253
5.03
66
124
190
8.59
Tennis
7999
8223
16222
5.02
30
73
104
4.66
Track
35262
28639
63901
19.76
153
51
302
13.52
Volleyball
1052
12284
13336
4.13
5
160
165
7.36
Water Polo
893
452
1345
0.42
7
11
18
0.81
Wrestling
6219
0
6219
1.92
37
0
37
1.66
Totals
200207
122974
32181
100
719
893
2234
100

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