Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)


Professional Studies in Education

First Advisor

David M. Piper

Second Advisor

Kelli Reefer Paquette

Third Advisor

Meghan Twiest


Evaluating the decision making of athletic directors is important to better understand their perceptions on ethical issues within Division III college sports. Although mission statements and codes of conduct are in place for these institutions, such guidelines do not necessarily incentivize organizations and personnel to engage in ethical practices that foster honesty, respect, collective responsibility, and integrity. This gap between intent and practice generated four research questions that guided this qualitative study: First, what decisions are made by athletic directors that could lead to unethical practices? Second, how do athletic directors’ perceive media reporting on college athletics? Third, in what way do college athletic directors believe in the NCAA’s ability to promote ethical behavior? Fourth, how do athletic directors see the future of ethics in intercollegiate sports? This research may be key in helping athletic directors understand how competitive college sports can impact their ethical decision making in athletic programs.

The theoretical framework for this study relies on West Point’s Three Rules of Thumb model (Offstein, 2006) and Blanchard and Peale’s (1988) ethical theory. Both theories provide the framework to analyze the Pennsylvania athletic directors’ decision making in this study. The analysis in this study will include recommendations for athletic directors to make ethical decisions with regard to legality and fairness.