Bill Squadron authors Sportico column addressing mental health in college athletics

The assistant professor in the Sport Management Department wrote a July 1 guest column examining the challenges and pressures facing student-athletes, especially mental health concerns highlighted during Elon’s Sport Management Symposium in April.

With the NCAA’s decision last week to adopt an interim name, image and likeness (NIL) policy, college athletes are now allowed to sign sponsorships, endorsement deals and seek out other money-making opportunities – moves long barred by regulations.

Bill Squadron

While the NCAA’s reversal has garnered national attention, Assistant Professor Bill Squadron addressed another topical subject – mental health – in a guest column on July 1 for Sportico, a digital content company covering the intersection of sports and business. Titled “As NIL grabs headlines, NCAA athletes urge more mental health aid,” Squadron’s column noted that while big-money items like NIL and expanding the FBS playoffs receive more press, the student-athletes themselves rank mental health as their top priority.

To kick off the conversation, Squadron led with the insights he and others heard from student-athletes during the Sport Management Department’s “Perspectives on College Athletics” symposium in April. As part of the three-hour virtual event, four student-athletes shared their perspectives and opinions during a panel discussion, and the group agreed that mental health is a topic that deserves greater attention. The student panelists, including Elon’s Natalie Cummins ’21, largely commended their respective universities for promoting mental health initiatives, including access to sports psychologists, but stressed that more should be done.

“The clear message that emerged from the Elon discussion was that college administrators, coaches and others have made efforts to be more aware and supportive,” Squadron wrote. “Still, the scope of the problem requires even greater focus and resources.”

The Elon professor referenced one study that found that a third of college students endure at least one mental health challenge, with only 30 percent of that group seeking assistance. And among student-athletes with a mental health problem, only 10 percent seek help.

“This suggests schools and athletic departments must be more vigilant and take more initiative in discussing mental health issues and creating an environment where student-athletes are comfortable coming forward to receive assistance,” Squadron wrote.

To read Squadron’s column in its entirety, click here.