Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Administration

Major Professor

Gary Ubben

Committee Members

James A. Crook, Norma T. Mertz, Malcolm McInnis


This study is a population study of college choice criteria among student athletes at the University of Tennessee. This study surveyed 408 student athletes from an NCAA division 1A institution during their team meetings, spring semester of 2004. These participants competed in 16 sports: baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, football, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s track and field (both indoor, outdoor, and cross-country), women’s soccer, women’s softball, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s tennis, women’s volleyball and women’s rowing.

The 408 student athletes were categorized by gender, race, socio-economic status, scholarship level, and sport played. There were 234 male participants and 174 female participants. One hundred fifty-six participants reported being on full athletic scholarship. 147 participants reported being on partial athletic scholarship, while 105 were non-scholarship. Socioeconomic status was ascertained from information the student athletes gave about the educational attainment of both parents. Forty-six participants stated that both parents (or one parent in a single parent household) had a high school or less education, 82 stated that only one parent had college experience (whether single parent home or not), while 280 stated that both parents had college experience. Two hundred seventy-five of the participants were Caucasian, while 133 were non-Caucasian.

A 27-item questionnaire was used to measure reported differences on the choice of attending the University of Tennessee on the basis of college choice criteria. Overall, the student athletes cited having an opportunity to win championships as the major reason they chose the University of Tennessee. Other criteria identified were (2) the school’s athletic conference reputation, (3) athletic facilities, (4) the school’s sports programs reputation, and (5) comfort with other players. The lowest ranked college choice criteria for the student athletes included their high school coach’s recommendation, college guides and publications, their friend’s recommendation, school alumni, and their high school guidance counselor’s recommendation. Results are presented by category and the implications for athletic recruiting are discussed, along with needed future research.

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