Graduate Program

College Student Affairs

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion

Spring 2023

Thesis Director

Jon K. Coleman

Thesis Committee Member

Cindy Almon

Thesis Committee Member

Tom Michael


The purpose of this qualitative study was to find what perceptions did academic faculty have of student-athletes, if any, at a midsized Midwestern Division-I institution. The study addressed a gap in literature that existed of researched perceptions academic faculty members had of the student-athlete population as there was a lack of literature related to student-athletes through that lens. Using the Theory of Planned Behavior and Social Identity Theory for theoretical conceptualization of the data, the study was able to find tangible evidence for the existence of perceptions of student-athletes from academic faculty and what behaviors, exposure, and experiences related to student-athletes contributed to those perceptions. The study found that academic faculty have more positive perceptions of student-athletes when they understand the unique demands student-athletes have, when they can see the impact they make on an institution’s campus, and when they are exposed to student-athletes outside of the classroom in settings such as academic faculty office hours. Additionally, it was found that female identifying student-athletes elicited more positive perceptions from academic faculty compared to their male identifying counterparts. Similarly, student-athletes who participated on nonrevenue generating smaller teams had more positive perceptions associated to them than their counterparts on larger revenue generating teams. Strategies for improving perceptions through collaboration and communication between student- athletes, faculty, and the institutions athletics department, and recommendations for future companion studies and research are discussed within the study.