Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Higher Education Administration

Major Professor

James P. Biddix

Committee Members

Dorian McCoy, Karen Boyd, Dara Worrell


This study sought to advance the understanding of how leadership education affects student-athletes interpersonally, as athletes, and as students while providing insight into the importance of leadership development for institutions and athletic departments for student-athletes who participate in a yearlong leadership program. The purpose of this study is to explore how a yearlong leadership development program influenced the personal and leadership growth and development of student-athletes during the 2020-2021 academic year. Two research questions guided the present study: How does the Student-Athlete Leadership Academy curriculum and experience contribute to student-athletes’ progress through the theory on leadership identity development and understanding of the social change model? How do student-athletes perceive that their experiences in the Student-Athlete Leadership Academy influence and shape their development as a person, leader, and athlete?

These questions were explored through the Leadership Identity Development (LID) model and the social change model. I observed all 20 student-athletes during their courses and on their international immersion trip. I also utilized class readings, syllabi, and news articles as written documents in the data collection process. In addition to the observations and document analysis, I conducted semi-structured interviews with five students to gain a deeper understanding of participants’ experiences in the SALA. I also administered and analyzed weekly journal prompts from these five students. The findings of this study illuminate the importance of leadership development programs for collegiate student-athletes. The study found that through their experience in the SALA, student-athletes moved through the LID model and gained an understanding of the social change model.

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