student-athletes, higher education, motivation, identity, Division I football. race/ethnicity


As less than 3 % of student-athletes go on to play sport professionally, it is important that they are prepared for careers outside of athletics (Susanj & Stewart, 2005). Many football student-athletes have low grade point averages and graduation rates. Universities incorporate academic motivational programs to help combat low academic performance. One unique program, Scholar-Baller, utilizes popular culture within its curriculum to bridge the gap between academics and athletics. This dissertation examined the differences between Scholar-Baller and Non Scholar-Baller Division I football student-athletes' motivation (academic, athletic, intrinsic) and athletic identity using expectancy-value theory and self-affirmation theory as its framework. In addition, the effect of race/ethnicity (African-American, White American and Other race/ethnicity) and Scholar-Baller participation on Division I football student-athletes' motivation (academic, athletic, intrinsic) and athletic identity was examined. Expectancy-value theory defines motivation as both the expectation of the student's belief about the final outcome of a task, and the values the student gives to the task. A student either has a positive, negative, or neutral expectation of the completed task's outcome (Williams, Anderson & Winett, 2005; Xiang, McBRide & Bruene, 2006). This framework allows for exploration of student athletes' academic expectations and values. Self-affirmation theory explains that when students focus on important identities and values, they can become less defensive towards threatening information. Therefore, when receiving negative academic feedback, student-athletes using self-affirmation techniques may be more confident, open-minded and receptive towards the threatening information. Three instruments were used to collect data. The Student-athletes' Motivation toward Sports and Academics Questionnaire SAMSAQ) was used to assess academic and athletic motivation, while the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ) was used to assess intrinsic motivation towards academics. Lastly, the Athletic Identity Measurement Scale (AIMS) was used to investigate athletic identity. Four universities (two Scholar-Baller and two Non Scholar-Baller) were chosen for their similar academic and athletic performance. Using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences: Graduate Pack 16 for Windows, a Multiple Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) and Analyses of Variance (ANOVA) were run to determine if significant differences exist between the Scholar-Baller and Non Scholar-Baller football student-athletes' academic, athletic, intrinsic motivation and athletic identity. These tests revealed that Scholar-Baller football student-athletes had significantly lower academic and athletic motivation than Non Scholar-Baller football student-athletes. Having low academic expectations and little value for academics is consistent with student-athlete subculture. However, these findings were in contrast to what was expected. In addition, Scholar-Baller football student-athletes had significantly higher athletic identity than Non Scholar-Baller football student-athletes.This finding is also consistent with the literature on student-athletes. As student-athletes must be motivated athletically to perform at intercollegiate sports, it is not surprising to find high athletic identity among the Scholar-Baller football student-athletes. In fact, studies have suggested that high athletic identity correlates with high academic performance (Harrison, Stone, Shapiro, Yee, Boyd & Rullan, 2009; Sellers, Chavous & Brown, 2001). One Scholar-Baller university in this study reported higher grade point averages since the inception of the Scholar-Baller program (2.37 in Fall 2004 to 2.68 in Spring 2006). Scholar-Baller curriculum utilizes self-affirmation exercises to affirm student- athletes athletically and influence more acceptance of academic criticism. Scholar-Baller football student-athletes are more affirmed in their athletic role which may lead to academic success. This dissertation also investigated differences between Scholar-Baller and Non Scholar-Baller football student-athletes' academic, athletic, intrinsic motivation and athletic identity in relation to race/ethnicity. Three groups, comprised of African-American, White American and Other race/ethnicity, were used to compare Scholar-Baller and Non Scholar-Baller football student-athletes. No significant differences were found. However, it was noted that Scholar-Baller African-American football student-athletes had higher academic, athletic and intrinsic motivation than Scholar-Baller White American football student-athletes. This finding is surprising given the previous research indicating African-American student-athletes' low academic motivation. As this dissertation investigated only differences between Scholar-Baller and Non Scholar football student-athletes' motivation and identity, further research needs to be done to further explicate these differences. Also, athletic identity should be further investigated among football student-athletes to determine its role in academic performance. Furthermore, given this study's findings of higher academic and athletic motivation among African-American Scholar-Baller football student-athletes, and its contrast to previous research, further studies should be performed to further explicate these differences among race/ethnicity. Qualitative research involving in-depth interviews and longitudinal studies investigating motivation and athletic identity over time should be performed.


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Graduation Date



Holt, Larry


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Education


Sport Business Management

Degree Program









Release Date

February 2010

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)