Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Major Professor

Tom Miller, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Amber Dumford, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Deirdre Cobb-Roberts, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Janelle Wells, Ph.D.


college athletics, leadership, Title IX, organizational behavior


Despite significant growth and advancement for women and girls participating in sports, we have not seen the same trend for women in leadership roles in athletics – even with the introduction of the Senior Woman Administrator (SWA) designation. The SWA designation was implemented in 1989 to ensure that at least one woman would be involved with the leadership of athletic departments following the NCAA’s takeover of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) in 1981. Confusion and misperceptions have surrounded the role, and, as a result, impacted the women who serve in it. This study’s phenomenological design aimed to gain insight to the experiences and self-perception of power of the women who serve as SWA at NCAA Division I institutions. Through semi-guided interviews with women currently serving as SWA at NCAA Division I institutions, this study provides an in-depth look at the representation, inconsistency, and self-perceived power that women in this role experience.