Date of Award

Spring 4-15-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



Committee Chair

Dr. Thomas O'Brien

Committee Chair School



The topic of athletics and academics within higher education has been an ongoing discussion since the late 1800s. The ability to support athletes, not just athletically, but academically has been an aspirational goal for many years. The purpose of this study was to identify the specific study habits and academic challenges that student athletes, who are considered “at-risk” and play football for The University of Southern Mississippi, face. This study also aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of the Student Academic Enhancement Program (SAEP) at addressing the academic concerns of this specific population.

This study engaged in an action research approach and made of Time on Task Theory (TTT) as the theoretical framework. This study also used a researcher-made questionnaire. The questionnaire relied on self-reports from a sample of seventeen student athletes who played intercollegiate football during the fall semester of 2019. Results from the study found that the “at-risk” student athletes spent significantly less time engaging in academic study, such as reading and math, each week in comparison to the national average. The results also conclude that participants spent several hours with a tutor per week, but minimal time studying on their own. Data also show that although participants only “sometimes” approached their academic counselors with academic concerns, they found the SAEP program “mostly” helpful. The researcher concludes the study by making recommendations that the “at-risk” population place greater effort and time into studying, outside of tutoring. Also, the researcher provided recommendations for the SAEP to better support the academic concerns of the “at-risk” population.