Committee Chair

Rausch, David W.

Committee Member

Crawford, Elizabeth K.; Banks, Steven R. McCullough, Desiree' A.


Dept. of Education


College of Health, Education, and Professional Studies


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


The purpose of this study was to determine factors that influence giving decisions of former athletes at a small regional university. A former athlete survey was developed and administrated to 769 former athletes who graduated from UT Martin between 1994 and 2015. The survey had 212 individual valid responses for an overall 27.5% response rate. The survey instrument included a qualitative section to allow responders an opportunity to elaborate on responses and provide personal insight to motivators in philanthropic decision-making processes. The dependent variables of donor status and donor levels were analyzed to determine possible relationships between other factors that were identified as possible influencers in giving decision-making through previous studies and literature review. There was a gap in literature and studies involving NCAA Division I FCS programs, generally due to size of institutions and lack of research funds available. Cross tabulations, Pearson’s Chi-square test, and bi-variant regression analyses were conducted to identify factors that predicate donor motivators. While several factors influence the giving decision-making process, distance living from the university, feelings toward the university in general, ethnicity, feelings toward the sport played, and overall passion to see success in the specific sport played are primary influencing factors that were identified in this study. No significant relationships were determined to exist between various variables, but the analysis did identify areas for possible future research. Recommendations for future fundraising strategies for former athletes include recognition programs, peer-to-peer solicitation, forming specific team focused alumni affinity groups, and creation of a communication plan to former athletes about general needs of athletics and specific needs of each team. A donor motive model was developed as a guide to aid development professionals in search of increased private funding.


This is one of the hardest sections to complete because I do not want to leave anyone or any group out of my acknowledgment. The following are not listed in any order or preference. Because of your support, I am able to complete a life-long goal and contribute positively to my university’s future. To my supervisors, Len Solomons and Andy Wilson, thank you for allowing me to pursue this dream. Your passion for our profession and desire to improve and increase our university’s development and alumni programs provided me the ground work to research best practices and a yearning to better understand the factors that impact fundraising at our university. Thank you for also allowing me to utilize many of the best practices I discovered during my research to improve the outreach of my profession. To Dr. Tom Rakes, Dr. Nick Dunagan, and Dr. Keith Carver for your continued support of my educational efforts. As chancellors of UT Martin, past and present, I admire the leadership styles and passion you have for higher education. Because of your encouragement, I am finishing this lifelong dream. To Dr. Bob Smith, my friend and mentor, thank you for your support and time you have given me for the past two years. You will never know how much I value your leadership and friendship and the relentless pressure you applied to me to complete this degree program. You and Ramona are special friends to my family and I am a much better person for having you in my life. To Pat Munkel and her late husband, Mike, who always pushed me toward this endeavor. Mike was quick to spend time with me and share his vision for the future. I only wish he could be present on the day I walk across the commencement stage, but I know he will be with me in spirit. The entire Munkel family will always be a strong part of my family. When this journey began in 2011, I was not sure I would get to this point, but because of the support from the faculty and staff at UT Chattanooga, I am finally here. To the faculty and staff of the Learning and Leadership program, thank you for making this experience one I will never forget. From the lively face-to-face class meetings to the endless discussion boards, you challenged me to think outside the box and to dive deeper into the research and readings. You were quick to exploit flaws in my reasoning, but swift to help create solutions. To my dissertation committee, I am not sure words can express my appreciation and admiration for each of you. My sincere thank you for never tiring of my questions, reviewing endless drafts, preparing me for my defense, and for your friendship. If people ask if I enjoyed the program, I can truthfully say my experience was one of the best because of the support and positive attitude you had towards me and the research I was passionate to conduct.


Ph. D.; A dissertation submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.




Educational fund raising; Universities and colleges -- Alumni and alumnae -- Charitable contributions


Fundraising; Athletic fundraising; Alumni giving; Former athletic giving

Document Type

Doctoral dissertations




xv, 113 leaves