Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Recent scholars noted the need for an engaged workforce to achieve optimal performance in various institutional fields. Within the sports industry, organizations often rely heavily on volunteers as a vital resource to accomplish goals and missions (Cuskelly, 2004; Doherty, 2009). The sport volunteer literature demonstrates the broadness of the field but also shows the increased demand for volunteers to aid staging events, even as the recruitment pool of volunteers is generally decreasing. Relatedly, it is in the best interest of organizations to maintain and manage volunteers to stay efficient (Chelladurai, 2006) because the need for this human resource continues to increase (Cuskelly, Hoye, & Auld, 2006).

Despite the growing body of literature on sport event volunteers, one particularly unexplored avenue within this literature is engagement, which allows organizations to retain and motivate individuals. Kahn (1990) defined engagement “as a series of active and positive psychological states (cognitive, emotional, and behavioral)” (Shuck & Reio, 2014, p. 47), underlining one’s motivation with the intent to act. Among the growing hallmark events within the sports industry are college football bowl games (Williams & Seifried, 2013). As the popularity of football bowl games has increased (Coakley, 2017; Seifried & Smith, 2011), organizers are placing more focus on staging ancillary events, indicating a heightened dependency on the “invaluable human resource” (Doherty, 2006, p. 108), the sport volunteer.

Therefore, the purpose of this study is to explore the role of engagement levels among volunteers at National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) bowl games and how engagement relates to the recruiting and retaining of those individuals. This quantitative inquiry is guided by Kahn’s (1990) initial engagement conceptualization. Overall, this study contributes to the engagement literature, adding empirical and theoretical discussion to the sport context along with proposing future research opportunities. More specifically, it allows for developing practical implications and designing more effective training sessions and retention strategies. Additionally, organizations will be able to find more meaningful roles for their volunteers to ensure higher retention rates and to maximize their ability to address the needs of their human resources, to stage a successful event for everyone involved.



Committee Chair

Martinez, J. Michael