Date of Award


Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Karen Huchting

Second Advisor

Rebecca Herr Stephenson

Third Advisor

Eno Attah Meekins


This study used semi-structured interviews of athletic directors to present a descriptive narrative of academic support provided to student athletes in five Southern California high schools. These interviews highlighted what supports were provided as well as structures that would better support student athletes. The impetus of this study was the mixed findings regarding the academic performance of student athletes in comparison to their non-athlete peers. While high school students must satisfy academic requirements to remain eligible to participate, California high schools are not required to provide academic support to their student athletes (California Interscholastic Federation, 2017). Without an obligation to provide academic support, some schools may not (or cannot) invest in the resources needed to ensure that student athletes remain academically eligible, causing further disparate outcomes.

The purpose of this research was to investigate what academic supports were being provided by five Southern California high schools to ensure that all student athletes were eligible to play their sport while achieving academic success. Additionally, the study further uncovered what structures athletic directors believed would better support their student athletes. This study applied the Total Person Program (TPP), a framework utilized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), as a basis of holistic supports for student athletes. Through analysis of the interviews, the researcher curated strategies that were being used to support the academic performance of student athletes and synthesized the ideas about structures that would better support student athletes. The results revealed that a collaborative approach is needed to implement various academic supports. The athletic directors identified that structures need to change to address the variance in academic performance and support student athletes with applying to college. Findings also point to the leadership capacity of athletic directors.