Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. James Kanan (Director), Dr. Jerry Daday, Dr. Holli Drummond

Degree Program

Department of Sociology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


This study examines the effect of stratification on graduation at Western Kentucky University, a master’s level regional Division I Football Bowl Subdivision university in the South. The study begins by examining the historical basis of stratification in sport and higher education, and hypothesizes that becoming an intercollegiate athlete can eliminate the effect of being African American on graduation, which is generally negative and can be seen in lower graduation rates for African Americans compared to other populations. Using a data set that included 18,966 students, logistic regression was used to assess: 1) the effect of race on sport profile and 2) the effect of race and athletic status on graduation, controlling for sex, high school GPA, pre-collegiate standardized test scores, and department of academic major. Results indicate that African American students have 771 percent greater odds of participating in high profile sports compared to low profile sports, which supports the literature that sport is stratified in such a way that African Americans are more likely to bear a disproportionate load in revenue-producing sports. Even so, when interacting sport profile, athlete, and race, the penalty on graduation for being African American is eliminated, and African American athletes have the same odds of graduating as white non-athletes.


Educational Sociology | Inequality and Stratification | Race and Ethnicity