Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Kinesiology and Sport Studies

Major Professor

James H. Bemiller

Committee Members

Don Bruce, Lars Dzikus, Bob Rider


Research on the experience of student-athletes at the collegiate level suggests that they may face challenges and hurdles in adjusting to college differently than those faced by students of the general student population. Additionally, research on student satisfaction suggests that a student’s satisfaction has an impact on the academic experience and retention of students, while research on athletic satisfaction suggests a relationship exists between athletic and academic satisfaction for student-athletes. However, it remains unclear whether there is a positive or negative relationship between the experiences of adjustment to college and athletic satisfaction of a student-athlete.

The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between various facets of athletic satisfaction and specific areas of adjustment from high school to college for Division 1A intercollegiate athletes in order to bring a broader perspective of understanding to the holistic experience of first-year student-athletes. In a quantitative research tradition using a correlative research design, the researcher examines the concepts using the Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire (SACQ) and the Athletic Satisfaction Questionnaire (ASQ) in surveying first-year student-athletes (n = 76) at an NCAA Division I FBS institution.

Based on the findings of this research, it is reasonable to conclude that for the first-year student-athletes in this study, a positive relationship exists between athletic satisfaction and adjustment to college. For both academic and athletic administrators, the findings suggest that the experience of a student-athlete should not be compartmentalized and that the academic, athletic, and social experiences of a student-athlete are interconnected. Additionally, in examining specific subgroups of student-athletes by gender, ethnicity, type of sport (revenue vs. non-revenue) and athletic aid status (scholarship vs. non-scholarship), the findings indicate that the subgroups experienced the relationship between athletic satisfaction and adjustment to college differently. Furthermore, the major takeaway for academic support services personnel is that regardless of the specific subgroup of student-athletes, satisfaction with academic support services is unequivocally the highest area of positive correlation with a student-athlete’s adjustment to college.

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