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Capital Matters: Social Sustaining Capital and the Development of Black Student-Athletes

How is social capital nurtured and made meaningful in the development of black student-athletes in historically white institutional (HWI) settings? Research explicitly exploring an understanding of nurturing social capital related to the development of black student-athletes is scarce. This collective case study investigates black student-athletes’ accrual and meaning-making of social capital in historically white settings of higher education and intercollegiate athletics. The data analysis, guided by conceptual frames of social capital theory and critical race theory, revealed two emergent themes identified as 1) Connected with and through community and 2) Cultivating cross-cultural ties. Findings revealed similarities and nuanced differences in social capital realized by participants across two student-athlete development programs at different HWIs of higher education. Implications for intercollegiate student-athlete program designs and pedagogical implementations are discussed. Further implications from this research contribute to scholars’ deeper understandings of the contextualized sociocultural development of black intercollegiate student-athletes.