The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Higher Education Administration: Ed.D.


Educational Administration and Higher Education


School of Education

First Advisor

Steven L. McCullar

Second Advisor

Michael R. Mills

Third Advisor

Jodi L. Kuznia

Fourth Advisor

Lori K. Ulferts

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

NCAA female student-athletes, athletic identity



National College Athletic Association (NCAA) and Division II (DII) athletics provide an opportunity for student-athletes to complete at a highly competitive level, at smaller regionalize institutions (50.8% of institutions with less than 2,500 students) (NCAA, 2017). There are approximately 300 NCAA DII institutions that participate in 24 conferences throughout the United States of America. NCAA DII athletics philosophy supports a “balanced and inclusive approach” that promotes an opportunity for student-athletes to have a greater opportunity to access championships and promotes preparation for student-athletes for life beyond graduation. This is done through monitored time commitment, limiting class absences due to limited travel and reduced scheduling. A NCAA DII student-athlete may receive an athletic scholarship and have access to additional financial aid. NCAA II institutions are split almost evenly between access between Private (51%) and Public (49%) institutions (NCAA, 2017). DII athletic departments promote the graduation success rates of their student-athletes against the general student body, as well as the commitment to community service and engagement opportunities that their student-athletes participate in.

The study was guided by three research questions. The first research question focused on athletic identity and selected demographic variables as a predictor of athletic identity strength. The second research question focused on the relationship between athletes AIMS score and the athletes score on the OM-EIS. The final research question examined scores on the CMI, OM-EIS, and AIMS to find a statistical relationship. Additional analysis was conducted between year in school and strength of AIMS to determine if identity foreclosure decreased, and career maturity scores increased throughout an athlete’s career.

In summary, the AIMS score was higher among those that received an athletic scholarship and with those that participated in the sports of basketball and volleyball. Freshmen scored the highest on the AIMS survey followed by sophomores, juniors and seniors (respectively). When examining year in school and score on the OM-EIS no significance was determined, however, interestingly sophomores scored the highest on the OM-EIS survey, followed by seniors, juniors and freshmen. Finally, juniors scored the highest on the CMI scale followed by sophomores, seniors and freshmen (respectively).

Athletic departments may want to consider allocating resources and programming specifically designed to meet the needs of student-athletes throughout each year as a student-athletes, interconnected to student developmental theory. Identity research has indicated that this age time frame is a pivotal time for these young adults, and that experiences they encounter as a student-athlete may influence identity and choices they make for the remainder of their collegiate career based on their association with their stronger identity. Continued institutional and athletic department programming, internships, and engagement opportunities are essential for juniors and seniors for career readiness. Athletic departments should also continue to work with staff and support staff (assistant coaches, athletic trainers, counselor, SAAC advisors, Senior Women Administrators, etc.) to prepare all athletes for life after athletics through by assisting the athlete in development of their holistic self-identity.



To my advisor and doctoral committee Chair, Dr. Steven McCullar. Thank you for your support, encouragement, and assistance over the past 7 years. I am very grateful for your mentorship and guidance during my time in the program and the friendship I have built with you as a St. Cloud State colleague. Thank you for allowing me to share my passion of sports with you through this research.

To my doctoral committee, Dr. Michael Mills, Dr. Jodi Kuznia, and Dr. Lori Ulferts. Dr. Mills thank you for always challenging me to be better and to grow professionally. Dr. Kuznia, I am so grateful to have had you added to my committee. Your mentorships, and guidance through my dissertation was greatly appreciated. Dr. Ulferts, thank you for your support, from the letter of recommendation to begin the program, to the numerous times you reviewed the content, to just being a sounding board as I worked through this journey.

To Dr. Randy Kolb, Director and the Statistical Consulting & Research Center. Randy thank you for your patience and your expertise. You are a great teacher and I am so thankful I had the opportunity to work with you.

To my all my Cohort peers-I learned something from each and every one of you as we shared our professional experiences. I valued each relationship that I was able to build throughout this experience. Thank you for always welcoming me into your Cohort.

To my coaching colleagues and my former assistant Jennifer Christians, thank you for your support and encouragement. Thank you for all that you do daily with your student-athletes to not only coach them in your support but to provide them mentorship and guidance on a daily basis and preparing them for life after athletics.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.