Date of Award

Spring 2022

Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Honors Bachelor of Arts




Dr. John Houston

Committee Member

Dr. Jennifer Queen

Committee Member

Dr. Josephine Balzac-Arroyo


Identity entrepreneurship, a leader’s active construction of a shared team identity, has become a pertinent research topic in sports leadership (Slater et al., 2015; Steffens et al., 2018) In line with social identity theory and the social identity approach to sports, recent research suggests that identity entrepreneurship is how leaders have the capacity to turn “teams of champions into championship teams” (Fransen, et al., 2015b, p. 98; Rees et al. 2015). This study was conducted to examine the difference in how the head coach of a championship team and the head coach of a non-championship team constructed social identity over the course of a college football season. A thematic analysis of two head coaches (Nick Saban and Butch Jones) revealed five higher- order themes indicating patterns of communication related to identity entrepreneurship: (1) defining what it means to be “one of us”, (2) casting vision, (3) strengthening “us”, (4) confidence expression, and (5) performance attributions. Similarities and differences between coaches within each theme are explained, providing insight into the difference between identity entrepreneurship on championship and non-championship teams. These findings have implications for coaches who aim build and lead championship teams.

Rights Holder

Marlee Johnson