Date of Award

Spring 4-2016

Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Shane P. Martin

Second Advisor

Karen K. Huchting

Third Advisor

Rebecca Stephenson


This study examined the career development experiences of one African American man, a former student-athlete in a Division I revenue generating football team. This study focused on his experiences as a student-athlete who participated in football as he transitioned out of elite athletics. Division I collegiate athletics represents a highly sought opportunity (NCAA, 2015h). However, this opportunity may reduce college completion and disrupt maximal career development (Hartman, 2014; Van Rheenen, 2013). This qualitative case study of one participant explored the nuanced influences and pathways the participant used to enter his current career after completing college. Mark Savickas’s (2002) Career Construction Theory (CCT), a constructivist non–a priori narrative theory, served as the theoretical framework. Qualitative interview data were collected during a progressive series of three separate in-depth, face-to-face interviews. Data were first analyzed using an inductive, open-coding process. Four patterns emerged from the data relative to the participant’s career development experiences: ambivalence, performance prioritization/competitive spirit, practical mind-set/good judgment, and value of selected communities, which helped him decide on the ideal career environments. Findings were then analyzed via the Savickas CCT tenets of successful career construction that include life themes, self-concepts, and life design. Findings include (a) the participant executed a largely linear pathway developing his career since retirement from elite athletics, (b) the participant experienced minimal challenges to reaching his current level, and (c) that participation in collegiate football provided valuable career development experiences. Additionally, the findings demonstrated a positive career development based on the participant’s alignment of CCT tenets life themes, self-concepts, and life design.