Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Higher Education Administration

Major Professor

Norma T. Mertz

Committee Members

Bob Rider, Dennis J. Ciancio, Barbara Thayer-Bacon


Previous research has indicated that faculty hold negative perceptions toward male student-athletes. Studies have shown that faculty perceptions are most negative when the student-athlete competed at an NCAA Division I institution, in a high-profile sport, and was non-White. What remained unknown was the role of gender in understanding faculty perceptions of student-athletes. The current study considered this gap in the literature and determined if the gender of the student-athlete, the gender of the faculty member, or other characteristics of the faculty member influenced perceptions of male or female student-athletes. The study utilized the Situational Attitudes Scale (SAS) to compare faculty reactions to ten different scenarios involving male student-athletes, female student-athletes, and students from the general student population. The responses from 282 faculty at one NCAA Division I institution were analyzed. Faculty were found to hold more negative perceptions of male student-athletes than either female student-athletes or students in the general population in nine of the ten scenarios posed, although the difference in perception was only found to be statistically significant in eight of the ten situations.

Whereas faculty perceptions of male student-athletes were always the most negative of the three groups, faculty perceptions of female student-athletes differed depending on context. Faculty were found to hold more negative perceptions of female student-athletes than students in the general population in certain situations, primarily situations that involved preferential financial or admissions decisions by the institution which targeted female student-athletes. However, faculty were found to hold more favorable perceptions of female student-athletes than students in the general population in other situations, particularly situations related to academics such as when the student has a lower semester GPA or misses a class.

The gender of the faculty member was not found to have a significant impact on faculty perceptions of student-athletes. While some other characteristics of the faculty member, specifically academic rank, field of instruction, previous participation in collegiate athletics, and previous experience teaching male student-athletes, were found to be significant in a few specific scenarios, the faculty member’s race, and previous experience teaching female student-athletes were found to have no significant impact of faculty perceptions.

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