Mental Health, College Athletics, and the Media Framing of D. J. Carton’s Announcement to Step Away From his Team

David Cassilo, Kennesaw State University
Yannick Kluch, Virginia Commonwealth University


This research analyzed the media framing of the decision by D. J. Carton, a collegiate men’s basketball player from Ohio State University, to take a leave of absence from his team due to mental health issues. While prior research has examined media framing of public mental health disclosures by professional athletes, this has yet to occur for a collegiate athlete, which is a necessary area of inquiry due to the prevalence of mental health issues among college students as well as the many differences that exist between professional and collegiate athletics. A media framing analysis of 63 press articles for Carton revealed five frames used to discuss Carton’s situation. Of those frames, four were largely positive in nature focusing on areas such as the support Carton received at Ohio State, his role as a mental health advocate, and the shedding stigma of mental illness in collegiate athletics. However, one frame within the coverage treated Carton as a commodity by focusing on his athletic value rather than him as a person or his personal issues. Overall, the positive types of news frames can normalize mental health disclosure on the college campus and set expectations for the level of support athletes will receive.