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Minding the terrazzo gap between athletes and nonathletes: Representativeness, integration, and academic performance at the U.S. Air Force Academy

The tension between focusing on collegiate athletic or academic performance has persisted for decades. A recent study finds that recruited athletes in college athletic programs underperform academically, earning lower grades than predicted. It postulates that increased representativeness and integration efforts will enhance the academic value of college athletes’ experience. The U.S. Air Force Academy system presents a natural experiment of whether such efforts can affect student-athlete academic performance. In this setting, we find that student-athletes perform comparably to nonathletes after controlling for predicted academic performance.