Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Higher Education

First Advisor

Cecilia M. Orphan, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Judy M. Kiyama, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Carrie Ponikvar, Ed.D.


Women collegiate D II coaches, Leadership labyrinth, Gender equity, Queer, Discourse, Narratives, RCU


Representation by female head coaches in the NCAA is at an all-time low. This study analyzed an institution (LSU) where women’s representation and gender equity is higher than average. Using a qualitative inquiry approach applying Critical Narrative and Foucauldian Dispositive Analyses in a queering fashion, the study explored ways in which institutional (macro) discourses shaped individual (micro) daily narratives. The overarching goal for this study was to reveal themes, language and discourse informing women’s coaches’ recruitment, retention and persistence at an NCAA Division II and Regional Comprehensive University excelling in gender equity and inclusivity.

Findings indicated power-knowledge connections via Foucauldian Dispositive Analysis of documents including coach self-evaluations, the 360 evaluation process, athletic strategic plan and department meetings. Findings also illustrated six women coaches’ narratives about their recruitment, hiring and onboarding experiences and their sense-making of LSU discourse through a collective narrative of the athletic evaluation and promotion process, spaces, department meetings and written/non-written discourse.

Implications and recommendations focused on how specific stakeholders can improve the recruitment, retention and persistence of collegiate women coaches by employing lessons learned from the LSU athletic department. These lessons include: senior institutional leaders foster gender equity within athletic departments and must be intentional with recruitment and hiring practices; athletic administrators need to create clear procedures and provide support (e.g., assigned mentors) for onboarding/orientation of new women coaches; evaluation and promotion should be holistic tied to institutional type/mission and Division II status; physical spaces create discourse and power dynamics especially within department meetings and finally, that people act as embodied forms of discourse. Embodied discourse is especially effective when positively and carefully utilized to cultivate inclusive departmental cultures leading to the success of women coaches. Areas of future research could incorporate queer theory especially with research on neoliberal cultures in higher education. Future research also might focus on the potential ways women coaches’ narratives shape the institutional discourse, organizational saga and inform quantitative evaluation tools. Potential implications from these future areas of research might positively affect athletic and institutional culture and the evaluation of faculty and administrative staff to improve student learning outcomes.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.

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