Date of Award

Fall 12-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Kinesiology and Nutrition

Committee Chair

Dr. Melissa Thompson

Committee Chair School

Kinesiology and Nutrition

Committee Member 2

Dr. Nancy Speed

Committee Member 2 School

Kinesiology and Nutrition

Committee Member 3

Dr. Robert Doan

Committee Member 4

Dr. Morgan Eckenrod

Committee Member 4 School

Kinesiology and Nutrition


The purpose of the research was: to qualitatively explore and further understand NCAA Division I (DI) athletes’ experiences with coach conflict and the impact of that conflict on well-being. To serve the purpose of this research, the primary researcher used a purposive sample of DI student-athletes by contacting them directly or sharing the study with faculty, graduate students, and athletic department personnel who work with student-athletes. An interpretive phenomenological approach was utilized while engaging in qualitative inquiry to pursue richer answers to the research question, because these approaches “seek to explore, describe, and analyze the meaning of individual lived experience” (Marshall & Rossman, 2011, p. 19). More specifically, Van Manen’s (2014) phenomenology of practice was integrated since it involves interpreting phenomena in a way that helps practitioners, i.e., those who might need to address coach-athlete conflict, such as coaches, sport psychology practitioners, or others in the sport or mental health realm. In-depth interviews were conducted with 11 (8 women, 3 men) Division I student-athletes. Through the multiple rounds of coding in the thematic analysis process, four primary themes and their lower order themes were established. While there are unique aspects to each participant’s experience, all eleven participants discussed outcomes (i.e., primary themes) that fell under psychological, emotional, and relational consequences; six participants discussed physical consequences as well. The findings from this study will raise awareness of and provide insight to coaches and other important sport personnel regarding the student-athlete experience, which ultimately can lead to a more positive and improved sport experience for all.


Available for download on Thursday, January 01, 2026