Predicting Student Athletes' Motivation Towards Academics and Athletics

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Leadership Studies

First Advisor

William Ingle, Ph.D

Second Advisor

Sara Abercrombie, Ph.D (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Todd Keylock, Ph.D

Fourth Advisor

B. Ridpath, Ed.D (Committee Member)


Collegiate athletics has become an integral part of the student experience for both athletes and non-athletes. Student-athletes’ individual experiences have received considerable attention in the popular media and literature as the pressures to perform both athletically and academically are vast (Benford, 2007; Meyer, 2005). The purpose of this study was to examine whether gender (men’s vs. women’s sports), sport visibility (highly visible versus non-highly visible sports), race (white vs. non-white), and perceived motivational climate (task- and ego-involved) significantly predicts motivation towards academics, athletics, and career. Finally, this study attempted to establish possible correlational explanations for the lack of academic integrity in intercollegiate athletics. Approximately 310 Division I student-athletes were contacted to participate in the study. Student-athletes in this study were recruited from one Midwest University. Gender, race, and sport visibility were assessed using the demographic questionnaire. To measure players’ perceptions of the motivational climate on each team, the Perceived Motivational Climate in Sport Questionnaire-2 (PMCSQ-2); (Newton, Duda, & Yin, 2000) was used. The dependent variable of motivation was measured by using the Student Athlete’s Motivation toward Sports and Academics Questionnaire (SAMSAQ); (Gaston-Gayles, 2004; 2005) to assess academic, athletic, and career motivation. To describe underlying structure principal components analysis was conducted. On the items of the PMCSQ-2, the analysis produced a three-component solution. The task-involving component accounted for 20.64% of the total variance, ego-involving approach accounted for 13.97% of the total variance, and the ego-involving avoidance accounted for 10.28% of the total variance. On the items of the SAMSAQ, the analysis produced a two-component solution. After iv rotation, the academic motivation component accounted for 21.60% of the total variance, while the sport motivation component accounted for 20.20% of the total variance. To describe and examine the existence of predictable relationships among the independent (gender, sport visibility, race, and perceived motivational climate) and dependent (motivation) variables, multiple regression was conducted. Results indicate an overall model of three predictors (gender, race, and task-involving climate) that significantly predict academic motivation, R2=.205, R2adj=.189, F(6,302) = 12.946, p < .001. Results also indicated an overall model of three predictors (gender, race, and task-involving climate) that significantly predict sport motivation, R2=.396, R2adj=.384, F(6,302) = 33.018, p < .001. This study provides support for the need to monitor the perceptions of the motivational climate and the academic and sport motivation of collegiate athletes. If opportunities can be created for student-athletes to transfer their athletic skills and motivation to the classroom, then student-athletes might rise to the occasion of academic achievement. Further investigation could provide researchers, administrators, and coaches with a better understanding of how to maximize the potential of student-athletes.