Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership and Research

Document Type



According to graduation rates published by the NCAA, 2.5 in 10 Black NCAA football players do not graduate, whereas only 1 in 10 White players fails to complete a degree across all Divisions (NCAA, 2020a). The purpose of this study is to examine the role of race in the experiences of student-athletes who do not complete their programs of study. This qualitative, narrative case study explored the factors that compelled Division I, Black male student-athletes to leave their Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs), to which they were recruited to participate in revenue-generating sports.

Using an interpretivist approach, this qualitative, narrative case study explored the lived experiences of five Black male student-athletes and their decision to prematurely withdraw from their programs and universities. The researcher used a Critical Race Theory framework, particularly the tenet of counter-storytelling, to illuminate convergence in the narratives of student-athletes and the administrators who supported them. Student support administrators attributed attrition primarily to deficiencies in academic preparation and lack of familial support for academic study. Conversely, student-athletes focused on the race-related impacts of harmful stereotyping and transactional relationships with coaches as the driving factors in their decisions to leave.

The findings suggested that for these student-athletes, experiences at their PWIs could have been significantly improved through intentional programming to foster student agency in their relationships with faculty and coaches, comprehensive student-athlete profiles for use by student support administrations, and dynamic implicit bias training for staff working with student-athletes.



Committee Chair

Curry, Jennifer



Available for download on Thursday, November 02, 2028