Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership

First Committee Member

Mario Martinez

Second Committee Member

Gerald Kops

Third Committee Member

Nancy Lough

Fourth Committee Member

Joanne Thompson

Number of Pages



The aim of this exploratory study is to determine why student athletes admitted under University of Nevada, Las Vegas's (UNLV) alterative-admissions policy are successful, specifically by looking at the UNLV Athletic Department's institutional practices. Alternatively admitted athletes are the recipients of these practices. Although there is some research on the predictors of success for college-student athletes, the literature on alternatively admitted student-athlete success is negligible. This appears to be a specialty subgroup of students, and the institutional practices that contribute to their success should be identified and explored.

The purpose of this study was to qualitatively investigate and analyze whether the UNLV Athletic Department's institutional policies, practices, and programs contribute to the success of this population based on interviews with alternatively admitted athletes and athletic professionals in the department. Athletes were asked which institutional practices they believed worked for their success or lack of success, and which policies, practices, and programs they believe are most important. Professionals gave opinions on which policies, practices, and programs they thought were most beneficial to this particular group of students. Qualitative methodology was used to determine the answers to the research questions for this study. The major findings from this study show that individual advising is the one practice that one hundred percent of the student athlete and professional participants from the UNLV Athletic Department agree is an effective practice that contributes to the success of alternatively admitted student athletes. The other practices and programs that show alignment in opinions from both groups of participants include tutoring and study skills. The professionals identified the lack of resources within the department and the policies of the NCAA as external influences to providing effective services to alternatively admitted student athletes. Results are compared to Kuh et al.'s theoretical framework of student engagement and analyzed for concordance, disagreement, and overlap; and contribute to the literature by taking empirical evidence and providing a coherent framework that institutions of higher education may implement for other special subgroups of students.


Academic achievement; Academic success; College athletes; College dropouts – Prevention; College student athletes; University of Nevada; Las Vegas


Educational Leadership | Student Counseling and Personnel Services

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




IN COPYRIGHT. For more information about this rights statement, please visit