Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Sport Studies

Major Professor

Joy T. DeSensi

Committee Members

Robin L. Hardin, Lars Dzikus, Barbara J. Thayer-Bacon


College athletics originated as a recess from academic demands and were originally organized by students, yet faculty took over supervision to address safety, professionalism, and academic integrity (Hawkins, 2010). This evolution led to the formation of athletic departments and a governing body (Shulman & Bowen, 2001; Hawkins, 2010). Thus, demonstrating a historical element of social control in the motives of sporting establishments; however, official aims such as character building are typically espoused (Shulman & Bowen, 2001), or as Goffman (1961) states, “the reformation of inmates in the direction of some ideal standard” (p. 74). Examination of the use of available resources within NCAA Division I institutions raises questions concerning relationships of power, locus of control, and the mission of universities and athletic departments, (Benford, 2007; Hughes & Coakley, 1991; Shulman & Bowen, 2001). This study analyzes how social control techniques have manifested within NCAA Division I intercollegiate athletics as a perpetuation of commercialization.

The experience of three NCAA Division I softball student-athletes is presented. The work is methodologically grounded in the theoretical paradigm of pragmatism and is informed substantively by Foucault’s (1979/1995) panopticism and Goffman’s (1961) total institution. A narrative inquiry as defined by Clandidin and Connelly (1994; 2001; 2006) was designed using semi-structured interviews for data collection. The participants’ unique stories illustrate how they experience the disciplines of a total institution. A polycoval method of data analysis was used to ensure that the multiple voices present in the data were represented (Hatch, 2002). This study expands understanding of how the issues of power, social control, and personal empowerment are experienced by NCAA Division I softball student-athletes.

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