Thomas Auten, Ed.D is a graduate of the Doctor of Education in Educational and Professional Practice program at Antioch University.


Dissertation Committee:

  • Michael A. Raffanti, Ed.D., JD, Dissertation Chair
  • Douglas Judge, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Emiliano Gonzalez, Ph.D., Committee Member


Athletic coaching, Mentoring, Student athlete, Extracurricular sports, Constructivist Grounded Theory

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The research inquiry asked the question, what methods do athletic coaches employ to improve academic performance and skills of their high school student athletes? The research method chosen for this investigation, influenced by the teachings of Dewey and Freire, is constructivist grounded theory. This research method used intensive interviews with 17 former high school athletes ranging in age from 19 to 68. The responses from these interviews uncovered three main coaching concerns: eligibility based on maintaining minimal grade point average; improving academic performance through peer tutoring; and mentoring for life skills and success. Based on my co-construction of meaning with the participants that considered data from transcripts, my memo writing, my own experiences as a coach and student athlete, and relevant theoretical literature a grounded theory emerged: Reframing Coaching Success. This grounded theory accounts for the process through which athletic coaches extend their definition of coaching success beyond assuring athletic achievement to ensuring that each student-athlete has support for academic and life success. Further research is needed regarding how high school athletic coaches are prepared to transcend a focus on sporting success to a wider view of academic success for students. This study supported the concept that athletic coaches have the potential to play an important role in a student athlete’s life and is an opportunity that needs to be taken and maximized. This investigation has the potential to v shift the focus in high school athletics from one that rewards elite athletes and championship winning coaches, to one that focuses on improving the academic skills of student athletes. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA ( and OhioLINK ETD Center (https://


ORCID Scholar NO. 0009-0006-8947-9813