“He’s an Asshole”

Power 5 College Football Athletes Navigating a “Shady” Coaching Transition


  • Alison Fridley University of Southern Mississippi
  • Daniel Springer University of Missouri
  • Amanda L. Paule-Koba Bowling Green State University
  • Stacey A. Forsythe Western Kentucky University
  • Sarah Stokowski Clemson University




college athletes, football, coaching transition, athlete experience, transition theory


Head coaches play a crucial role in shaping both athletes’ athletic experiences and the complex team system. Consequently, coaching transitions have tremendous impacts on college athletes. Through the lens of transition theory, the purpose of this case study was to investigate the effect of multiple head coaching changes on NCAA Division I Power Five football athletes. Eight football athletes completed a 27-item open-ended questionnaire. Data analysis revealed three explicit, meaningful themes: support, achievement, and consistency. This study strived to assist athletic administrators and coaches in becoming increasingly aware of the potential impact that these abrupt coaching transitions can have on the athlete experience. Additionally, through the voices of the participants, this study attempted to assist college athletes in navigating a coaching transition.

Author Biographies

Alison Fridley, University of Southern Mississippi

Alison Fridley, PhD, is an assistant professor of sport management in the School of Marketing at the University of Southern Mississippi. Her research interests include athletic marketing, sport spectatorship and fandom, athlete development and experience, and athlete identity.

Daniel Springer, University of Missouri

Daniel Springer, PhD, is an assistant teaching professor in Parks, Recreation, and Sport at the University of Missouri. His research interests include college student development and the nexus of sport and higher education.

Amanda L. Paule-Koba, Bowling Green State University

Amanda L. Paule-Koba, PhD, is a professor of sport management in the School of Human Movement, Sport and Leisure Studies at Bowling Green State University. Her research interests include issues in intercollegiate athletics, academic clustering and gender equity.

Stacey A. Forsythe, Western Kentucky University

Stacey A. Forsythe, EdD, is an assistant professor and program coordinator in the Sport Management program at Western Kentucky University. She is also the co-coordinator of the Esports Management Certificate. Her research interests include coaching change and leadership, team development, sport management pedagogy, and student-athlete support services.

Sarah Stokowski, Clemson University

Sarah Stokowski, PhD, is an associate professor of athletic leadership in the Department of Educational and Organizational Leadership Development at Clemson University. Her research interests focus on college athlete development with an emphasis on personal development literacies.


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