Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Educational Leadership


Marion, Russ

Committee Member

Flanigan , Jack

Committee Member

Grimes , Larry

Committee Member

Phillips , Terry Don

Committee Member

Hanson , Bill


A grounded theory research study employing network analysis as a means of facilitating the latter stages of the coding process was conducted at a selective university that competes at the highest level of college football. The purpose of the study was to develop a better understanding of how interactive dynamics and controlling mechanisms, such as NCAA eligibility standards, influence the academic experience of college football student-athletes. The study resulted in the development of a model that depicted the college football student-athlete's academic experience along a path of engagement that is influenced by dynamics and processes over the course of his college career.
The college football student-athlete is one of the most recognizable students on campus. He represents his classmates on the football field, but his academic experience is nothing like that of his classmates. Influenced by less than adequate pre-college academic preparation and pressures associated with being a college football player, he defines his academic experience by how he engages in it. For most college football student-athletes, the academic experience is dependent on the support of the athletic culture. For some, the academic experience is more independent of the athletic culture as the student-athlete seeks to establish supportive relationships among faculty and classmates.