The discontinuation of intercollegiate athletics teams at National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I, II, and III institutions has been tracked by the NCAA national office for decades. From 1988-89 through 2014-15, the men’s sport with the greatest net loss of teams throughout all NCAA divisions was wrestling. While a body of research exists that examines factors cited by campus and athletic administrators as reasons that lead to the discontinuation of NCAA sports, the actual lived experience of college student-athletes in the wake of sport elimination has garnered little attention. After a sport is discontinued, the NCAA also ceases to examine the academic progress, retention, or persistence to degree of those Division I student-athletes. Retrospective interviews with twelve Division I wrestlers provide insight into their experience and changes in identity following sport elimination.
The contextual framework includes a review of the role of intercollegiate athletics in higher education, summary of current NCAA structure, discussion of the economics of Division I athletics, overview of the ancient origins of wrestling, and examination of the structure of modern intercollegiate and club wrestling programs.
First-generation college students negotiate and construct multiple identities while navigating the university experience. Since participation in athletics is commonly used as a springboard for social mobility and access to the cultural capital of higher education, this project explored the experience of both first-generation and non-first-generation NCAA Division I wrestlers. This research privileges the voices of college student-athletes who candidly shared personal insights after the elimination of a sport that provided a significant source of their identity. Research was designed to expand the literature on the experience and identity of first-generation college students, contribute to the development of a robust body of work on the specific experience of first-generation college student-athletes at NCAA Division I institutions, and provide recommendations for campus and athletic administrators considering the elimination of an intercollegiate sport.
While sport discontinuation is usually considered to be an event (the elimination of a team on a particular date), findings in this study suggest that sport discontinuation might be better viewed as a process with ripple effects that last for years. The decision to eliminate a team requires thoughtful consideration of the effect it will have on the experience and identity of individual student-athletes. To mitigate the short-term and long-term effects of sport discontinuation, it is recommended that institutions establish and maintain support services specifically for the affected student-athletes in the months prior to and years following the announcement of the elimination of the team.
|Commitee:||Gill-Fisher, Pam, Perrault, Sarah|
|School:||University of California, Davis|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 77/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Sports Management, Educational psychology, Counseling Psychology, Higher education|
|Keywords:||College, Discontinued sport, First-generation, Ncaa division i, Student-athlete, Wrestling|
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