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An Exploration of the Administrative Influence of NCAA Regulation: A Case Study of the Changes in the “Big Football University” Athletic Academic Support Unit from 1991 – 2014 Open Access

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Athletic programs have been an exciting staple of the higher education experience for over a century. Although student athletes have been studied near exhaustively in higher education research, less attention has been paid to the relationship of athletic academic staff members and corresponding institutional operations in supporting student athlete goals. This study was designed to create a full, rich description, ultimately contributing to the literature of the cultural, social, economic, and academic environment of the staff of the athletic academic support unit from 1991-2014. The overall research question is thus: How has NCAA legislation shaped the administrative institutional action at the “Big Football University” athletic academic support unit from 1991-2014? A case study methodology was chosen for the research design. The study utilized a constructivist epistemological orientation and two theoretical lenses: Organizational Identity Theory and Social Identity Theory. Data collection was conducted through interviews with key informants and primary and secondary document analysis. Data displays, domain analysis, and open coding was be used to answer the research question. To increase both internal and external validity, trustworthiness tactics were used ensuring that the results matched reality, that there was a saturation of data, and that a truthful portrayal was created by providing a clear synthesis of patterns found. During data analysis, four constructs were used as macro categories for themes including University Responses, Identity Changes, Legislative Influences, and Leadership and Role Conflict. The results from this study led to three major findings. First, the data collected has the ability to contribute data furthering research in the fields of Social Identity Theory, Organizational Identity Theory, and constructivist epistemology influences in higher education environments. Next, the hyper focus of the study on one institution’s administrative choices was a pragmatic choice by the researcher to be able to recommend how other schools can adjust their own support services if they are faced with similar scenarios. And lastly the study highlights the need for more athletics research to improve practice within the field.

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