Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 5-31-2022


The purpose of this study is to understand NCAA Division I, II, and III collegiate athletes (CAs)’ motivations towards academics, athletics, and gain a greater understanding of their transition plans. This study uses a sequential mixed method design. Firstly, the quantitative study examined collegiate athletes’ motivation levels for both academics and athletics among the NCAA divisions. The Sport Motivation Scale-II (SMS-II) was utilized to measure athletic motivation, and the Academic Motivation Scale (AMS) was used to measure academic motivation. After conducting quantitative research, a qualitative approach was used to explore collegiate athletes’ career readiness and transition plans based on their motivation levels. A total of 457 CAs participated in the quantitative part, and 13 participants were recruited and participated in the qualitative part of the study.

The quantitative part showed significant differences between Division I and Division III and Division II and Division III for academic motivation. Also, the results revealed significant differences between Division I and Division II and Division I and Divisions III in terms of athletic motivation. The qualitative part resulted in five distinct themes: 1) Divisional Differences in Support & Resources, 2) Balancing the Dual Role of Athletics and Academics, 3) Self Determination Theory: Emphasis on the Components of Motivation, 4) Planning and Career Goals for Transition Out of Sport, and 5) Impact of COVID-19.

The results of this study included vital information regarding CAs’ motivation and their career transitions. Since all the athletes will eventually retire from their sports, they will experience at least one or more transitional situations in their athletic lives. Thus, it is hoped that this study will provide important information for people who are involved in college athletics, specifically, educators, coaches, administrators, and researchers, as well as fill a gap in the literature, as few studies have been conducted using DII and DIII CA populations, as well as there is a lack of research comparing all three NCAA divisions.


Collegiate Athlete, Athletic, Academic, Transition, Motivation, Self-Determination

Document Type




Degree Name

Physical Education, Sports and Exercise Science

Level of Degree


Department Name

Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences

First Committee Member (Chair)

Lunhua Mao, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

Allison Smith, Ph.D.

Third Committee Member

Todd Seidler, Ph.D.

Fourth Committee Member

Amanda Paule-Koba, Ph.D.