Doctoral Dissertations

Orcid ID

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Higher Education Administration

Major Professor

Robert A. Rider

Committee Members

Dorian L. McCoy, Barbara J. Thayer-Bacon, Adam Love


This study explored the career transition experiences of former dropout college student-athletes in South Korea who are males and successfully obtained their desired career paths. To this end, grounded in a critical approach, Bourdieusian social and cultural reproduction was used as the theoretical framework. Dropout college athletes in this study are defined as elite student-athletes who were fostered under the South Korean athletic specialist system and obtained college admissions as a result of their athletic performance in high school but ended their athletic careers during their college years. There are many different ways to define career success. Yet, the career success for dropout college student-athletes in the current study can be defined those who are holding full-time and white color jobs rather than temporary and blue color jobs. Accordingly, a basic qualitative research method design was adopted by conducting semi-structured interviews with 15 former student-athletes who previously played team sports and currently hold leadership positions in their jobs. The sports they played include baseball, basketball, soccer, volleyball, and ice hockey. Their career fields are varied, including sports administration, academia and education, religion, law, medical and health, and national security. The findings of this study included several primary themes: (a) Factors Impacting Burning Out and Terminating Athletic Careers, (b) Life Challenges after Athletic Termination, (c) Factors Dealing with Social and Cultural Barriers to Achieve Successful Careers, and (d) Perceptions and Types of Societal Roles and Social Responsibilities. The stories of the participants were critically discussed to examine the current athletic system, education, society, and culture in South Korea, revealing existing structural problems to suggest both theoretical and practical implications and limitations. Overall, this study described the career transition experiences of former Korean dropout college student-athletes through the lens of Bourdieusian social and cultural reproduction to increase more in-depth understanding of social justice in education and sport.

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