Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Becoming Their People: The Impact of a Faculty and Staff Mentor Program to Improve Sense of Belonging and Persistence Rates of DIII First-Year Football Student Athletes

McKinney, Michael C (2022) Becoming Their People: The Impact of a Faculty and Staff Mentor Program to Improve Sense of Belonging and Persistence Rates of DIII First-Year Football Student Athletes. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Download (1MB) | Preview


Due to its emphasis on academics and exclusion of athletic scholarships, the NCAA’s Division III (DIII) is often praised by coaches, media, and higher education leaders for offering the purest form of collegiate athletics. However, the academics-first philosophy and higher graduation rates the NCAA celebrates for most of its sports are not reflected in outcomes for football, the division’s sport involving the most student athletes (SAs) and one in which Black men are overrepresented. Retention and graduation rates of DIII football SAs and Black football SAs in particular, have long trailed other student populations. This mixed-methods research study used Improvement Science to test the impact of a faculty or staff mentor program on first-year football SAs’ integration outcomes and sense of belonging at a small, private, DIII college located in Western, Pennsylvania. The sample for this study (n=47) was paired with a faculty or staff mentor as part of a PDSA (Plan, Do, Study, Act) cycle. Multiple data points were collected through pre- and post-intervention surveys, institutional records (e.g., fall semester GPA, involvement in organizations other that football, and first-to-second semester retention), and focus groups. Results of the study suggest the first-year football SAs who participated in the mentoring program benefited from the intervention, realizing higher sense of belonging at the institution, averaging higher GPAs and higher levels of engagement outside of football, and persisting at the institution at significantly higher rates than football SAs who did not participate. Black or African American participants also realized better integration outcomes than Black or African American football SAs who did not participate, but did not benefit to same degree as White football SA participants. Findings from this study will assist college leaders as they respond to the need for improving retention and graduation rates of football SAs and Black men. Strengths, limitations, implications, and suggested improvements to the intervention are included to strengthen the impact of the intervention for potential future iterations.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
McKinney, Michael CMCM184@pitt.eduMCM184
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairPerry, Jill
Committee MemberAkiva,
Committee MemberFrombgen,
Date: 31 August 2022
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 8 June 2022
Approval Date: 31 August 2022
Submission Date: 4 August 2022
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 110
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: College Student Retention; DIII Student Athletes; Student Athlete Graduation Rates
Date Deposited: 31 Aug 2022 18:17
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2022 18:17


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item