Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management


Anderson, Denise M.

Committee Member

Cawthon , Tony

Committee Member

Phillips , Terry Don

Committee Member

Schmalz , Dorothy

Committee Member

Stevens , Bonnie


The college years are formative in adolescents' identity development, for intercollegiate athletes, the identity is 'athlete'. The extent an athlete relates to an athletic identity may play a role in behaviors, attitudes, and ultimately the transition from athlete to non-athlete. In this study, the Athletic Identity Measurement Scale, the Exhausted Eligibility Retirement Scale, and a demographic instrument were administered to student-athletes from a mid-sized public, land-grant university who had exhausted their athletic eligibility in the 2007-2008 academic year (N=53). Results indicated that athletes with a stronger athletic identity scored higher on the exhausted eligibility transition scale, suggesting the transition to non-athlete is easier. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a sub-sample (N=15) to further explore the transition. The interviews revealed a theme of transition that suggests former athletes are excited to experience the life of a traditional college student, yet experienced a sense of loss of identity, social network, structure, and motivation.