Examining the Value of Social Capital and Social Support for Black Student-Athletes’ Academic Success


The purpose of this study is to understand how social capital and social support influence the academic success of Black student-athletes that attend predominantly White institutions of higher education (PWIHEs). Utilizing a qualitative approach, the authors conducted narrative interviews to understand the experiences of Black student-athletes (N = 9) at a PWIHE in the southwestern region of the USA. Employing critical race theory, the Black student-athletes revealed their experiential realities as a racial minority within the academic environment. The findings revealed that their academic success was contingent upon their interactions with faculty as their status as Black student-athletes promoted positive and negative interactions. As such, Black student-athletes leveraged their social capital, or social networks consisting of parents and family, to provide social support. Acknowledging the unique “culture” of student-athletes, college and university athletic departments and their personnel may find it beneficial to create proactive avenues for parental engagement to aid in student-athlete adjustment and matriculation.

Document Type





academic success, Black student-athletes, critical race theory, social capital, social support

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of African American Studies