Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences ETDs

Publication Date



Sports are often is seen as vehicles of social and career mobility, especially at the collegiate levels where full athletics scholarships grant students access to higher education. While sport, on the surface and at its best, espouses the values of equality and merit, studies examining under-representations of minority groups in key roles indicate that more work needs to be done on inclusiveness and equity. Leadership recruitment studies in sport traditionally evaluate the influence that playing positions have on career mobility (Grusky, 1963). Loy and Elvouge (1970) expanded upon that tradition to develop positional segregation (stacking') research, which explores the influence of racial or ethnic characteristics on the playing positions assignments for athletes. In addition to testing for the evidence of traditional interpretations of leadership recruitment and positional segregation, this study explored the potential of adding different predictor variables to models relating playing position to career mobility (for coaches) and race/ethnicity (for athletes). Using intersection theory as a framework for understanding the ways in which race, class, and gender function together in the lived experiences of individuals, this study explored the influence that an individual's biographical characteristics have on the assignment of playing positions and attainment of coaching positions specific to women's intercollegiate basketball. Two sets of participants (Division-I Women's Basketball coaches and players) were invited to complete online surveys designed to collect demographic and experiential information related to their involvement in women's basketball. Logistic regression, correlation, and chi-square analyses were used to evaluate the various hypotheses. The results supported the traditional test of leadership recruitment within the coaches' sample. Coaches were more likely to have played a central position during their playing careers than a non-central position; a finding that was especially true for head coaches, whose majority were formerly point guards. The findings also indicated that there was evidence of racial and sex bias for both the presence of minorities and women in coaching and in the valuation of their experiences as players. The race/ethnicity of the individual revealed no influence on his/her attainment of position hierarchy within a coaching staff; however, race/ethnicity was a significant bias for head coaches. The results from the student-athlete sample did not support the traditional test of positional segregation, in that the race/ethnicity of the individual did not act as a statistically significant predictor of playing position assignment. Moving beyond the basic interpretation of specific playing positions as a measure of centrality, the results of the study confirmed the alternative hypothesis that race and class interacted in ways that affected the level of centrality associated with an individual's role on the team. An exploratory measure of access provided additional insight into the developmental experiences of student-athletes. The analyses revealed that the influence of access on role centrality was greater for minority athletes. The findings of this study suggest that addressing intersecting identities may be more relevant in the analysis of disparity in sport research than addressing race/ethnicity alone.'


leadership recruitment, positional segregation, socioeconomic status, stacking, race, ethnicity


University of New Mexico Graduate and Professional Student Association: Student Research Grant (partial funding)

Document Type




Degree Name

Physical Education, Sports and Exercise Science

Level of Degree


Department Name

Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences

First Committee Member (Chair)

Seidler, Todd

Second Committee Member

Scott, David

Third Committee Member

Borden, Allison M.