Paper Type

Doctoral Dissertation


College of Education and Human Services

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Leadership, School Counseling & Sport Management

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Leadership, School Counseling & Sports Management

First Advisor

Dr.Luke Cornelius

Second Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Kane

Third Advisor

Dr. Daniel Dinsmore

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Joel Beam

Department Chair

Dr. Christopher Janson

College Dean

Dr. Diane Yendol-Hoppey



Student-athletes are viewed as the epitome of health due to their physical appearance and talent set; however, it is their psychological health that needs significant attention (Etzel, 2006). Psychosocial stressors such as the pressures and demands of being a student and athlete as well as the demands and expectations of the coach have significant impact on the student-athlete’s mental health and well-being (Beauchemin, 2014; Cleary et al., 2011; Lafrenière et al., 2011; Mageau & Vallerand, 2003; Watson, 2005). The purpose of this research is to investigate any correlation between student-athletes’ perceptions of coaching leadership behaviors and the symptoms associated with disorders such as anxiety, depression, suicidality, and substance abuse. The Leadership Scale for Sport (Chelladurai & Saleh, 1980) and the Symptom Assessment Measure instruments are used in this study. An exploratory analysis determined the reliability and construct validity of the instruments. Thirty-three student-athletes from a non-football Division I university engaged in the study, with twenty-eight completing some or all portions of study. All participants are between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four. A linear regression analysis demonstrated no relation between the independent variable, student-athlete perception of coaching leadership behaviors and the dependent variable, symptoms associated with anxiety, depression, suicidal behavior, and substance abuse mental health disorders, (F=.52, p=.49, R2=.061, and Beta coefficient was -0.248). Gender differences is not determined due to the skewed sample consisting of eighty five percent female and fifteen percent male. Though the linear regression analysis indicates no relation between the dependent and independent variable, supplemental contextualization was given to additional questions asked on the Symptoms Assessment Measure. These findings provide evidence that student-athletes perceive that their coach’s leadership behaviors do have influence on their mental health. This reinforces reports that coaches do wield power over their athletes and their influence is related to student-athletes’ psychological well-being (Horn, 2008; Locke et al., 2012; Stebbings et al., 2012).