Campus Location

Dallas Campus (Online)

Date of Award


Document Type



Organizational Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Rick Zomer

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Christopher Abrams

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Rosemary Peggram


The problem addressed in this qualitative case study was the low graduation rates self-reported by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics institutions when compared to the general student population at a small Christian university in the Southern United States. In this study, I sought to acquire a deeper understanding of the degree to which an athlete’s mindset and psychological resilience influenced their perseverance and academic achievement on their path toward graduation. Utilizing semistructured interviews as the primary data collection method, I used purposive, convenience, and snowball selection methods to enlist a total of 10 participants from a pool of 52 qualified candidates meeting the specific criteria: being 18 years of age or older and a full-time student-athlete engaged in a varsity sport, completion of the institution’s Best Achievement Strategies for College course, and enrollment in their third or higher semester of college. Female volleyball players, golfers, and education majors were excluded from the study to avoid any potential biases. An anonymous questionnaire was used to gather demographic data on SurveyMonkey. One recorded semistructured interview generated verbatim transcripts where NVivo coding was employed to identify initial codes and themes. Three major themes emerged—growth mindset, resilience, and persistence—with three minor themes—coping actions, God and faith, and motivation or purpose. Findings indicated participants who self-identified possessed higher levels of growth mindset, resiliency, and persistence in the face of challenges associated with their academic success. Participants associated with possessing a fixed mindset, low resilience, and persistence experienced less academic success. Minor themes of appropriate coping actions were implemented by 60% of athletes, while only 40% associated their faith, motivation, or purpose with academic success. This dissertation not only offers valuable insights into how college athletes implement their mindset, resilience, and persistence toward academics but also provides a foundation for tailored support strategies that institutions can implement to foster both athletic and academic excellence.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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