Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Arthur Hernandez


William Carleton


Randall Griffiths


Research Focus. Research is ongoing around the United States on volunteer motivations; however, NCAA student athletes remain an understudied population. This quantitative study investigated the motivations of NCAA student athletes in community service to determine if the importance of motivational functions differ demographically. The specific purpose of this study was to examine and determine the order of the motivational function of importance for NCAA student athletes in connection to their participation in mandatory community service. Determining if the importance of motivational functions differ demographically by gender (male, female), academic classification (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, graduate students), and by sport type (team, individual) was an additional focus of this study. The research aimed to contribute beneficial insight and establish base knowledge regarding the importance of the motivational functions of NCAA student athletes in community service.

Research Methods. The instrument used in this study is the Volunteer Functions Inventory (Clay et al., 1998), developed to understand the motivations of volunteers; demographic questions were also asked. The VFI categorizes individuals’ motivations for volunteering into six different functions; values, understanding, enhancement, career, social and protective. The authors of the inventory have established reliability and validity of the VFI (reported later). SurveyMonkey was used to collect demographics and VFI responses from NCAA student athletes who were listed on a current roster at the University of The Incarnate Word. The 150 student athletes participating in the study included 90 female and 60 male; this total population included 40 freshman, 33 sophomore, 36 junior, 28 senior, and 13 graduate level students. Data were analyzed using IBM SPSS (IBM, 2016) predictive analytic software and Microsoft Excel. Descriptive statistics (frequencies, percentages, means, and standard deviations), independent t-test, and ANOVAs were used to explore significant differences between function by gender, academic classification, and sport type. An independent sample t-test was used to compare the means of different demographic variables to determine whether there was statistical evidence that the associated population means were significantly different. ANOVA tests were used to identify if any demographics differ from each other. Data analysis equality of variance in all cases was checked and homogeneity of the variances was confirmed through a Levene’s test. Since data met the assumptions of homogeneity of variances, a post Tukey’s HSD was used when the ANOVA analysis identified a difference between groups.

Research Results/Findings. Findings conclude participants (N = 150) scored the motivational functions in the following order of importance: Values, Understanding, Career, Enhancement Social and Protective. Females scored all but one motivational function higher than males, indicating that females may be more inclined to volunteer. The Social function showed statistical differences in the academic classification with freshman compared to both junior and seniors. The Social function additionally identified a statistical significance in female freshman and female juniors. Male seniors reported the lowest mean score on all functions. Male seniors showed statistical differences for Value and Enhancement compared to male freshman and juniors.

Conclusions from Research. This study may provide insight into what motivates current student athletes to participate in community service and identifies demographic differences within functions. Student athletes in this study did not directly benefit from the results of this study but may be indirectly affected when it is used for future community service events. This study align with literature in females reporting higher mean scores on most of motivational functions (Chesbrough, 2011; Metz, McLellan, & Youniss, 2003), suggesting females are more inclined to volunteer than males (Sullivan et al., 2013). The high level of importance for the social function in males suggests that they are more motivated by team events and working with others rather than independently. Male seniors were identified as a population with the lowest level of motivation to complete community service.