Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Kinesiology, Behavioral Emphasis



Major Advisor

Eric M. Martin, Ph.D.

Major Advisor

Shelley Lucas, Ph.D.


Scott A. Conger Ph.D.


Introduction: Despite the substantial amount of literature on career transitions in sport, there is insufficient research examining the social support system within college athletics as it is an important resource for student-athletes, especially for their success later in life. Likewise, there are currently no studies exploring athletic retirement from the perspective of student-athlete support or development services, a section of athletic departments that provides programming for the success of their student-athletes. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the implications of athletic retirement from the perspective of directors and/or associate directors of student-athlete support or development services of NCAA Division I universities. Methods/Data Analysis: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with participants (n = 8) to explore their perceptions about the factors that lead to a successful or unsuccessful transition out of sport. Participants further described how their current services and programs helped student-athletes overcome the obstacles of this transitional period. Results: An inductive data analysis was used to organize participants’ responses into themes and subthemes related to the original research questions. Although programming varied by institution, the participants observed that most of their student-athletes experienced a successful transition out of sport as their services and programs helped them effectively cope with the demands of athletic retirement. When participants did cite problems with the process of athletic retirement, they reported issues surrounding a salient athletic identity, such as a lack of career development, a sudden loss of the sport environment, and mental and physical health risks. Finally, participants believed that evidence-based services and programs need to be implemented to meet the needs of both current and former student-athletes. Implications for the programming of student-athlete support or development services and future research are discussed.