Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Educational Leadership

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. James W. Satterfield

Committee Member

Dr. Tony W. Cawthon

Committee Member

Dr. Ronald E. Chrestman

Committee Member

Dr. Michael G. Godfrey


Intercollegiate athletics has played a prominent role in higher education. While athletics may not fit into the purpose of higher education, its presence has brought many benefits to colleges and universities, such as brand recognition. However, the commercialization of schools with big-time sports programs has, at times, impact the integrity of these institutions. The large presence of athletics has commonly caused tensions between athletics and academics. Causes of tension typically are about the concern of the welfare of student athletes. While there are many studies that focus on the student athlete experience in regards to their academic and athletic commitments, there is a need to explore the athletic-academic dynamic from an administrative standpoint.

The purpose of this study is to explore the dynamics between athletics and academics at Clemson University. The researcher wanted to learn about the nature of the athletic-academic dynamic from an organizational perspective through the experiences of members in the athletic and academic communities. In addition, the researcher wanted to learn how the athletic-academic dynamic changed over the last 30 years, using the timeframe 1980 – 2014. Using a phenomenological case study approach, the researcher interviewed athletic administrators, university administrators and faculty that have been directly involved in athletic-academic dynamic. Furthermore, documents were collected to further inform the researcher of what was occurring. The researcher employed institutional theory and neo-institutional theory as the guiding framework for the study.



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