Navigating the Transition from Community College to University: A Grounded Theory Examination of the Student-Athlete Experience

Ashley Sloper – San Diego State University
Charles Edmund Degeneffe – San Diego State University
Wendy Bracken – San Diego State University
Marjorie Olney – San Diego State University

This study aimed to explore the factors which influence National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) student-athletes’ ability to successfully navigate transfer between community college and a Division I university. Student-athletes face both academic and athletic requirements that facilitate transfer. Understanding the barriers, challenges, and support systems that influence their experiences are important for coaches, academic counselors, administrators, and studentathletes themselves to have a deeper understanding of this process. Extant literature has reviewed factors that impede university transfer for general students, yet the student-athlete subpopulation remains relatively unexplored. To address this gap, the present study involved individual interviews with 15 participants enrolled at an NCAA Division I institution. Data was analyzed through a grounded theory approach resulting in the “Community College Transfer Student-Athlete Model (CCTSAM),” which examined the environmental, intrinsic, and intrapersonal influences and barriers involved in the transfer from community college to a Division I university. Research findings provide recommended actions for counselors and athletic administrators at both community college and Division I institutions which would build better support practices and improve communication for transfer student-athletes.