Stanford DAPER

Stanford Athletics Assessment

Inspire Champions in Life Assessment


The Stanford University Cardinals have won 117 NCAA team championships and 23 consecutive NACDA Director’s cups which are awarded annually to the most successful overall college sports program in the United States. Yet with all this success they felt they could do better. Stanford DAPER believed they could work more intentionally with their coaches and student-athletes to Inspire Champions in Life, and this focus became one of the central elements in their strategic plan.

To assist with this effort, Stanford DAPER engaged the Institute to design and implement an assessment tool and process to monitor progress for each team and the department overall. With input from a broad representation of department stakeholders, including coaches, administrators, and staff, the Institute customized its existing Excellence with Integrity Culture Assessment instrument for use as a tool in evaluating Stanford’s Champions in Life Principles. The resulting Inspire Champions in Life (ICL) Culture Assessment Survey has become the centerpiece of the formative assessment process that allows benchmarking of the current state, provides insights to guide continuous improvement efforts, and assesses progress towards the goals in the strategic plan.


Four major components of the ICL Survey target the four major categories of the Champions in Life Principles, which are Grounded Self-Awareness and Growth Mindset, Selfless Teamwork, Personal and Team Integrity, and Competitive Greatness. As a department, Stanford DAPER believes that these are hallmarks of the Stanford Athletics that are both NEEDED FOR and DEVELOPED FROM Stanford experience. Stanford is committed to an ongoing process of feedback and dialogue to provide a transformational athletic experience across their teams.

In addition to the four areas of student-athlete performance, the ICL Survey targets four major components of coaching that create the culture of the teams and help build Champions in Life qualities in student-athletes. These include Communication to Clarify and Reinforce Expectations, Targeted Practice for Habit Development and Growth, Accountability through Support and Challenge, and Mental Preparation and Mindset Formation. The survey includes all eight focus areas for parallel feedback both student-athletes and from coaches. The reports on the data present perspectives from both sides next to each other, allowing departments leaders and coaches to compare and contrast student-athletes’ and coaches’ views, thus enhancing the validity of the results.

Surveys are collected anonymously (by team). Moreover, student-athletes are asked to reflect on the performance of their teammates, rather than themselves, removing the threat from social desirability and further improving validity. Thinking about the team and teammates’ usual or typical performance in general, student-athletes reflect on the team culture — the patterns, habits and norms of the team.


Acting as an independent objective organization, the Institute collects all the data, analyzes the results, and provides reports back to the department and the teams. The Institute is also working with various Stanford DAPER staff to assist with data interpretation, dissemination of information, and concrete steps for improvement in the team cultures and student-athlete preparation for competition and for life. After the first cycle of assessment in spring of 2018, Stanford DAPER extended its collaboration with the Institute through 2021.