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Academic Services for College Athletes at Division II and III Institutions: Academic Advisor Perceptions

Alyssa A Frezza, Johnson & Wales University


Although very few college athletes ever enter the professional world of athletics, they remain more focused on their athletic performance than on their academic achievement (Comeaux, 2013; Lawrence, Ott, & Hendricks, 2009; Ridpath, 2010). College athletes who attend Division I, II, and III institutions receive numerous resources to succeed academically, including academic advisement, tutoring, and early class enrollments (Burns, Jasinski, Dunn & Fletcher, 2013; Carodine, Almond, & Gratto, 2001; Kelo, 2005; Ridpath, 2010). These resources cannot, however, offset criticism regarding their continued poor academic performance (Feinberg, 2009). The following research questions guided this study: 1. Are there differences in which academic services are most commonly offered with respect to Division status? 2. What is the relationship between academic support services and the following demographic variables: institution type (public vs. private), Division (I, II or III), years of advising experience and gender? 3. How do academic advisors perceive the academic advising process for Division II and III college athletes? This multiphase, sequential, mixed methods study (qualitatively dominant) included academic advisors from Division I, II and III institutions, drawn from two national associations (N4A and NACADA). Phase I consisted of N=2 elite informant interviews; Phase II administered a survey questionnaire with N=165; Phase III consisted of N=7 semi-structured interviews purposefully selected from Phase II. Phase IV administered a reflective questionnaire (N=9). Boyatzis’ (1998) thematic analysis approach was applied to Phases I, III, and IV data. The researcher utilized SPSS to conduct descriptive statistics, t-tests, and one-way analysis of variance followed by Scheffe’ post-hoc tests for Phase II. Statistically significant relationships were found between academic advisors and student athlete relationships and by institution type, number of academic services offered by division, and in the offering of Special Academic Orientation Programs. No statistically significant findings were found between males and females. Qualitative results generated four themes: a) resources and partnerships, 2) central hub of communication, 3) teaching skills for success and 4) accountability. Connected findings suggest that advisors empower and support advisees in numerous ways. This study may inform institutions to better serve college athletes with academic advising and support services.

Subject Area

Higher Education Administration|Educational leadership|Educational administration

Recommended Citation

Frezza, Alyssa A, "Academic Services for College Athletes at Division II and III Institutions: Academic Advisor Perceptions" (2016). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI10236378.