Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Kinesiology and Health

First Advisor

Timothy Kellison, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Beth Cianfrone, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Richard Lakes, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Brenda Pitts, Ph.D.

Fifth Advisor

DeQuan M. Smith, Ph.D.


Research has shown that in comparison to those of predominantly white institutions (PWIs), the athletic departments of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) generate significantly less revenue, and as a result, have fewer resources to allocate toward athletic aid, recruiting, operating, and head coach salary expenses. In general, HBCUs have storied pasts and often have strong football followings. At the Division I level, the neutral-site HBCU football classic games draw large crowds annually. Despite the popularity, it is widely reported that HBCUs struggle in athletic department funding. The financial struggle facing HBCU athletic departments can be explained using Resource Dependency theory. Specifically, as HBCUs are the most under-resourced member institutions of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the numbers prove how these institutions do not have the funds to invest in their programs. This study explores how major fiscal issues facing HBCU athletic departments compare to PWI athletic departments, how challenges HBCU athletic department heads face when setting budgets and allocating funds for revenue generating sports, non-revenue generating sports, and operating costs compare to PWI athletic departments, and how the solicitation and generation of revenue compare between HBCUs and PWIs athletic departments. To gather this information, two different groups of participants were interviewed to obtain an independent and insider perspective of the challenges. These groups include independent contractors, conference office staff, and NCAA staff that work with both HBCU and PWI athletic departments but are not employees of HBCUs or PWIs. Phenomenology was the methodological approach for this study as each participant had the opportunity to discuss their unique view of the current financial state of HBCU athletic departments. Participants took part in semi-structured interviews framed around the research questions mentioned above. The empirical material collected from the interviews were transcribed and coded as common themes were found between participant responses. Specifically, events, actions, interactions, and emotions were compared and assigned a coding label so that they could be grouped. This study contributes to the growing body of literature addressing HBCU athletics by providing a holistic perspective of the current financial, budget, and revenue generation challenges facing the institutions.