Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education/Higher Education Administration

First Advisor

John Saltmarsh

Second Advisor

John Saltmarsh

Third Advisor

Jay Dee


NCAA data indicates that Division III student-athletes are graduating at higher rates than their non-athlete peers. Graduation rate data alone do not provide a full understanding of student-athletes' academic success. The data thus far simply show empirically that student-athletes have a higher federal six-year graduation rate, but quantitative data do not provide an understanding of the student-athlete experience. To better understand the results of the graduation rate data, there first needs to be a greater understanding of the athletic subculture that permeates the student-athlete experience. The educational problem that this study addresses is how the athletic subculture within the student-athlete experience affects students' academic success. The purpose of this study was to identify the ways that athletic participation positively affects the college experience of student-athletes, particularly in regards to academic success. To better understand the effects of athletic subculture on academic success, this study surveyed Division III student-athletes at four institutions and examined the formal and informal social and academic structures within the athletic subculture that holistically support student-athletes towards academic success and degree completion. The study found a significant level of engagement with the athletic subculture, with teammates and coaches as individuals for academic support. The student-athletes within the study also identified both formal and informal athletic subculture structures as figuring into educational decisions, including institutional selection and a desire to transfer. Student-athletes within the study experienced the athletic subculture differently based on their year in school and gender, and also based on their self-identified grade-point average.


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