Higher Education Ph.D. Dissertations


A Phenomenological Study of the Recruitment Experiences of Women Student-Athletes and the Factors that Influence College Choice

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Higher Education Administration

First Advisor

Amanda Paule-Koba (Committee Co-Chair)

Second Advisor

Christina J. Lunceford (Committee Co-Chair)

Third Advisor

Maureen E. Wilson (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Michael J. Zickar (Other)


For prospective college student-athletes, college selection is a multifaceted process that often involves athletic recruitment and is different from a traditional student exploring college options. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to examine the recruitment experiences of women participating in intercollegiate athletics and the factors that were most influential to their college choice. This study used Perna’s (2006) Proposed Model of College Choice and Magnusen et al.’s (2014) Social Influence Model of College Choice as theoretical frameworks to understand the essence of women student-athletes’ lived experiences related to recruitment and college choice.

Ten women student-athletes who were 18 years or older and played Division I field hockey or volleyball at NCAA member institutions participated in the study. Each participant engaged in two, 60-90-minute semi-structured interview sessions. Following interviews, data were transcribed and verified by participants for accuracy before being coded to identify themes.

The findings from this research show that coaches and parents serve in the capacity of influential agents, resources, and/or supports to women student-athletes throughout the recruitment process. Results also showed that academics and team culture were highly valued institutional factors that dictated the college decisions of women student-athletes. Moreover, there are factors that are internal and external to the institution that are most salient to women student-athletes’ college choice.