What If CNU Were a D1 University?

Untitled.png1.jpgChristopher Newport University

1000 University Place

Newport News, VA, 2360



Date: November 5, 2015

To: Christopher Newport University’s Athletic Department

From: Alexandra Sandborn, College Student

Subject: Proposal for phenomenological study

The purpose of this memo is to show the emotions and perceptions of Christopher Newport University’s student body by asking them many different questions revolving around changing to a D1 university.


In general, I will create a survey containing questions about student’s feelings toward this proposed situation. It will create a sense of how the university as a whole feels about wanting to become a D1 university.


A phenomenological study was conducted based on how a specific group of people perceived a given situation. The group that I targeted was the student body of Christopher Newport University. In order to reach out to the entire study population, I created a survey and posted it to each Christopher Newport University’s class page on Facebook so each class was able to view and respond. In this survey had questions tailored to how the students will feel about different aspects of changing to a Division I university. Questions varied from being open-ended responses, to having three choices to choose from: Yes, No, Impartial. The reason behind open-ended questions is to engage the student and hear completely what their thoughts and feelings are toward this subject. For the simpler questions, they can simply choose from given answers. The reason for doing this qualitative study is to see how many students feel the same way about changing to a Division I university, and then, how we can try and improve to someday, making this an actual plan of action.


If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss my research study, please feel free to email me at alexandra.sandborn.13@cnu.edu or call me at (214) 471-3328.


“What if CNU were a Division I University?

– A Phenomenological Study”



Prepared by: Alex Sandborn

The purpose of this study is to gage the thoughts and feelings from the student body of Christopher Newport University regarding the hypothetical question, “What if CNU were a Division I university?” This open-ended question has come up in many different conversations during my time at CNU. Being a Division III university, the students do not get to experience some of the opportunities that a Division I university would get to obtain. On the other hand, there are some disadvantages to being a Division I university, and the respondents to my survey addressed these advantages and disadvantages. I composed a survey online that would reach the student body and target their emotions towards this given situation. The survey contained a variety of different formatted questions, which enabled students to give their own responses and share their thoughts.

Keywords: division, feelings, students, survey


Since the early 1960s when Christopher Newport University’s athletic program was founded, it has always been a Division III university. In the Department of Athletics Philosophy section, it is states that, “no financial aid shall be awarded to student athletes on the basis of athletic ability. “At Christopher Newport University, athletics is not an area that it is known for. Although Christopher Newport is a Division I university, that does not mean that we do not excel at sports. It is stated that, “the Captains compete in 23 NCAA sports, including football and cheerleading. Our university ranks fifth nationally in NCAA Division III team championships, and we’ve produced more than 500 All Americans.” Our teams do win championships and many titles, but the fan base at these particular games is very slim. Since CNU is a Division III university, the students lack the “game-day” feel. Attending an athletic event is not one of the top priorities for students. This is the particular reason as to why I posed the question, “What if CNU were a Division I University?”


Research Methods

Theory – Phenomenology

The theory that was used in this research study was phenomenology. The Creswell, which goes in depth with the five qualitative approaches to inquiry, explains phenomenology and what it is directed towards. Phenomenological research is used to describe how a certain scenario would affect individuals as a whole. In this particular study, the group of individuals that were affected by my study were the students of Christopher Newport University. A phenomenological study’s purpose is to have the targeted group express their feelings and emotions, drawing in the philosophical viewpoints. The reason that I chose to follow this approach was because I knew that I would be asking the student body as a whole many different questions that would trigger their exact emotions. With phenomenological studies, there are never any assumptions of data before it is gathered since it is all based on the respondent’s answers (Creswell).


  1. I created a seven-question survey through SurveyMonkey. Three out of the seven questions were open-ended in order to extract their exact feelings.
  2. I linked my survey to my Facebook profile, where I posted the survey on the Christopher Newport University’s class page, as well as on my personal account. I received one hundred and thirty responses to my survey. Although I received 130 responses, my data is only coming from 100 responses to due a free trial.
  3. By using a phenomenological approach when creating my survey, I incorporated valuable responses by engaging the responder.
  4. I used Wordle by inputting all of the responses to each question into a generator to create a data visualization.




The title of this survey was called “If CNU Were A Division I University.” The first question that I asked was a multiple-choice question, asking, “Would you like CNU to be a DI school?”


Of the responses, 63% said yes, 15% said no, and 22% it does not matter. These responses shows that a wide majority of the student body would like for Christopher Newport University to be a Division I university. I then proceeded to ask the following question, “If CNU were a D1 university, would you attend more athletic events?”
As seen in the pie chart, 81% of the students that responded to this survey said that if Christopher Newport University were a Division I university, they would attend more athletic events. This could be extremely beneficial and profitable for our athletic department, where now, athletic events are not a huge deal at CNU.


Later on in the survey I designed an open-ended question asking students what they think some advantages to Christopher Newport University being a Division I school were.


A large number of students empathized the thought of better recognition for our school. Since we would be DI, students said that CNU would bring in more revenue by “hosting larger ticketed athletic events.” Students also spoke widely of the fact that student athletes would be able to obtain athletic scholarships, which could also benefit financial aid altogether. School spirit, pride, and unity were all words that were mentioned many times throughout this free response. Some even said that since it would increase our school spirit tremendously, therefore, it would increase sales of more spirit wear. All of which would help funding to not only the athletic departments, but also others as a whole. Included with school spirit, was the fact that tailgates would be an extreme unity among all students at CNU.

A response that surprised me was the fact that some students said it could possibly help undergraduate students trying to achieve a career in the athletic department. They said that if we were a Division I university, we would have a lot more coverage on sports games, resulting in more recruiters for athletes, as well as media coverage. Being a Division I university would help those students trying to work in the sports industry because they would have that DI experience, rather than DII or DIII.

Since I received an extreme amount of responses, also that means that there will always be a number of different thoughts and feelings. Although a vast majority of the students were extremely enthusiastic and excited about this hypothetical question I imposed on them, there were some students who shared their worries. Some were worried that Christopher Newport University would become too large for them, as well as the fact that they came to CNU for the sole purpose that it was not a Division I university. Despite these responses, this survey provides meaningful evidence towards this opposed situation of CNU becoming a Division I university. 

Works Cited

“CNU Athletics.” CNU Athletics. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2015.

Creswell, John W. “Five Qualitative Approaches to Inquiry.” Qualitative Inquiry and       Research Design: Choosing among Five Traditions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage            Publications, 1998. 53-84. Print.

Sandborn, Alexandra N. “SurveyMonkey.” SurveyMonkey. Alexandra Sandborn, 18         Oct. 2015. Web. 11 Nov. 2015.



Christopher Newport University, If CNU Were A Division I University Survey.


  1. Would you like CNU to be a DI university?
  2. Yes
  3. No
  4. It Doesn’t Matter


  1. If CNU were a DI university, would you attend more athletic events?
  2. Yes
  3. No
  4. Maybe
  5. What are some benefits to being a DI university?


  1. What are some drawbacks to being a DI university?


  1. Did CNU’s athletic standing as a DIII university affect your admittance decision?
  2. Yes
  3. Somewhat
  4. Not At All


  1. If CNU were a DI university, do you think it would give us a more well-known reputation?


  1. Would you be okay with the university’s money going to athletics? Why? Or why not?

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