• Experiences That Impact the Recruitment and Retention of International (Non-Native Speaker of English) Student-Athletes in NCAA Division I Institutions

      Kontaxakis, Evangelos
      International student-athletes as a group are a unique population in any institution because they bring together three characteristics that are challenging through the educational process. Among the challenges for someone who chooses to study in a different country include facing issues such as the language barrier as well as problems in adjusting to the new culture. Moreover, balancing the role as a student and as an athlete is another challenge that international student-athletes face. Earlier research leaves gaps as it is related to international (non-native speaker of English) student-athletes and their experiences, which impact their decision to study in the United States and their adjustment in the new environment. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences that impact the recruitment and retention of international (non-native speaker of English) student-athletes in NCAA Division I institutions. More specifically, the student-athlete experiences in high school were examined which influenced their decision to move to the U.S. and the challenges they faced in the new environment. The goal of this study was to create a model that could be helpful for institutions and international student-athletes to be more prepared before making the decision to study as student-athletes in the United States. This study used a qualitative research design involving narrative, phenomenological, and grounded theory approaches. First, the life stories of the participants were examined, then the essence of these experiences was developed, and finally common themes that built a theory were established.The findings of this study suggest that the experiences that impact decision-making are (a) the U.S. educational system combines education and sport, (b) the U.S. system supports student-athletes and provides financial security through the scholarship system, and (c) international student-athletes want to live a new experience in life. Moreover, this study suggests that the experiences that impact retention are (a) the difficulties in English language, (b) the adjustment in the cultural differences, (c) homesickness, and (d) the time management involving the balance between the two roles (being a student and athlete).
    • Exploring the Essence of Student-Athlete Spirituality: a Phenomenological Investigation of NCAA Division I Athletes

      Raikes, Mark H.
      The purpose of this phenomenological qualitative study was to explore the essence of eight NCAA Division I student-athletes‘ experiences related to spirituality while participating in intercollegiate athletics. Discussions of NCAA Division I athletes often reveal ideas and misunderstandings of the student-athlete experience. There exists an increase in contemporary conversations about spirituality in higher education, and with that a need to better understand the student-athlete experience related to this complex construct. This study examined the experiences of student-athletes and how their spirituality, differentiated from religion, influenced how they utilized their athletic abilities. Through semi-structured, face-to-face in-depth interviews which were digitally recorded and analyzed, qualitative data revealed the emergence of four themes: (a) defining spirituality; (b) inseparability of spiritual, student, and athlete; (c) responsibility; and (d) influence on others. The Moustakas (1994) phenomenological research method revealed the essence of the student-athlete spiritual experience. The findings resulted in implications for those who concern themselves with the holistic education and development of college student-athletes, as well as recommendations for future practice and research.