Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award

May 1999


The purpose of this study was to determine the factors that influenced prospective student-athletes to attend East Tennessee State University. Using a qualitative research design, interviews were conducted with 36 freshman scholarship student-athletes. Participants represented student-athletes from each sport. A literature review covered the history of intercollegiate athletics, the history of recruiting student-athletes, the process of recruiting student-athletes, and the decline of public perception towards intercollegiate athletics. Results from the interviews were analyzed using inductive analysis. Patterns, themes, and categories of analysis emerged from the data. The data from the interviews were then unitized and categorized. The categorized units were used to formulate grounded theory. The computer software package QSR NUD.IST 4.0 was used for analyzing the data. Results showed that the ETSU campus personnel were the most influential to prospective student-athletes in deciding to attend East Tennessee State University. The coaching staff at ETSU was mentioned by 27 (75%) of the interviewees. Other ETSU campus personnel were mentioned by 18 (50%) of the interviewees. Finally, current team members were mentioned by 16 (44%) of the interviewees. Facilities located at ETSU were also influential to prospective student-athletes. The dormitories were mentioned by 16 (44%) interviewees. The recently renovated athletics weight room was mentioned by 12 (33%) interviewees. Finally, the Memorial Center was mentioned by 10 (28%) of the interviewees as being influential in the decision-making process. Lastly, 15 (42%) of the interviewees mentioned their academic interests were best served by attending East Tennessee State University. The Quillen College of Medicine was a big factor to several interviewees. The reputation of the College of Business was important to a couple of prospective student-athletes. Also, many interviewees mentioned that the size of the university was influential to them academically. There were eight recommendations that emerged from the study. The first is that the ETSU coaching staff should continue to be heavily involved in the recruiting process. Secondly, the coaching staff should recognize that prospective student-athletes find the people at ETSU very helpful and friendly. Prospects should meet as many people on campus as possible. The third involves the information sent to prospects in the form of letters. A series of letters should be developed to highlight the strengths of ETSU, to include: the academic strengths of ETSU, the dormitories, the coaching staff, the athletic facilities, the newly constructed library, the Trip-Cities area, the Southern Conference, the recent success of the individual athletic programs, and the strength of schedule. The fourth is scheduling official visits during times the current team members are on campus. The fifth includes scheduling tours of the athletics facilities, to include a visit to the weight room. The sixth is athletic programs that have experienced recent success should highlight this success as much as possible to prospective student-athletes. The seventh is for the coaching staffs to determine the academic interests of the prospects early in the recruiting process. The last recommendation is that all female prospects tour Luntsford Apartments during the official visits.

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access