Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Research Methods and Information Science, Research Methods and Statistics

First Advisor

P. Bruce Uhrmacher

Second Advisor

Nicholas Cutforth

Third Advisor

Jessica Reinhardt

Fourth Advisor

Artur Poczwardowski


Cross country, Disordered eating, Eating disorder, NCAA, Qualitative, Student-athlete


The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of student-athletes who had an eating disorder or disordered eating (ED/DE) while competing for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Integrating criticism and connoisseurship and critical evocative portraiture, four post-collegiate women who participated in cross country and track, who were either clinically diagnosed with an ED/DE or who self-diagnosed, participated in two interviews to describe their experiences with and the impact of ED/DE on their athletic pursuits, academic pursuits, as well as their relationships with coaches, teammates, and family. The analysis of these interviews showed the complexity of this topic. Three overarching themes emerged, each with two sub-themes to further elaborate the intricacies and inconsistencies of motivation for these student-athletes, as well as the seriousness of how overwhelming and detrimental ED/DE is. The first theme, Becoming More Serious, explained the perspective of each participant as they navigated becoming a better runner. Stemming from both internal and external pressures, participants desired success in running, which paralleled the need to obtain an ideal body type that would lead to success. Internal Conflict, the second theme, manifested itself in various forms for the participants. Participants felt compelled to control their running, diets, and schedules, often driven by self-reinforcement, and occasionally reinforcement from others. The third theme, Support, encompassed two sub-themes including isolation and support for overcoming ED/DE. In all cases, participants felt extreme loneliness and isolation from the people in their lives, often in an effort to protect their ED/DE, though in some cases in an effort to protect themselves as they attempted recovery. For some participants, support for overcoming ED/DE was displayed by coaches and teammates, though often the opposite occurred, leaving participants to have no support system. Conclusively, this study shows in detail the intense experiences of this particular population, and the various ways ED/DE impacted their lives as a student-athlete. Recommendations for the NCAA and for future researchers are included in this paper, primarily focusing on the lens in which we take when examining this topic, in addition to more deeply understanding the severity of ED/DE in this population.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Rachel E. Taylor


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

166 p.


Psychology, Social research