Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Educational Leadership, Evaluation and Organizational Development

Degree Program

Educational Leadership and Organizational Development, PhD

Committee Chair

Hancock, Margaret

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Hums, Mary

Committee Member

Hums, Mary

Committee Member

Alagaraja, Meera

Committee Member

Frederick, Evan

Committee Member

Staurowsky, Ellen

Author's Keywords

NCAA; sport; transition; race


The following study provided a voice to an otherwise unheard from population of former student-athletes as they explained their transition experiences with the Division I transfer and redshirt year. The purpose of the study was to explore the Black student-athlete’s transition experience through the redshirt year in Division I men’s basketball from a qualitative, phenomenological research perspective. The study used two theories as guiding frameworks: 1) Schlossberg’s (1981) Transition Theory and 2) Critical Race Theory (Calmore, 1992; Tate, 1997). Both Schlossberg’s (1981) Transition Theory and Critical Race Theory were used to examine the transition experience of the Black male basketball student-athlete as he moved laterally from initial to receiving institution to better understand the issues surrounding the situation, self, supports, and strategies of the individual student-athlete (Schlossberg, 1995). Critical Race Theory provides structure to better examine complexities of racialized structures and how such structures shape the experiences of those marginalized by society (Solórzano & Yosso, 2001). The researcher interviewed 15 former Division I men’s basketball student-athletes who identified as men of color, had exhausted eligibility between 2013-14 and 2018-19, and transferred laterally to a Power Five institution during their career and were required to spend a redshirt year-in-residence at their receiving institution. Findings indicate Schlossberg’s (1995) Transition Theory provides an effective framework for analyzing the transition experiences of transfer student-athletes. Transition takes time (Lazarowicz, 2015), and the redshirt year provides time for the transfer student-athlete to acclimate academically, athletically, and socially. Academically, participants expressed the transfer transition resulted in earned credit loss or major change, often leading student-athletes to need a fifth year to complete an undergraduate degree. If student-athletes were able to stay on course academically and graduate in four years, the fifth year provided them an opportunity to begin graduate coursework either at their receiving institution or at another university without the redshirt penalty. Another key finding indicated student-athletes felt significantly isolated throughout the transition process. Black student-athletes native to their initial institutions report feelings of isolation on the predominately White institution campus (Brown et al., 2001), and the transfer transition seems to exacerbate such experiences. Each of the 15 participants in the study expressed an abundance of advantages from their redshirt year experiences; however, 12 participants indicated they believed the redshirt policy should change. Thecards are stacked against Black transfer student-athletes on PWI campuses, and yet, the current policy in place to assist the transition of the student-athlete was deemed unnecessary by 12 of the 15 participants who gleaned significant athletic, academic, and social benefits from their experience. This disconnect leads to a larger issue of how significantly student-athletes perceive their sport careers over all else. Overall, the study provides insight into how practitioners can better assist transfer student-athletes through their transition.