This descriptive qualitative case study explored undergraduate degree attainment by African American males in football and basketball at a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I institution in the Southwest. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with four participants at the institution to uncover experiences that helped or hindered their progress toward degree completion. Student perceptions of their environment, the role of athletics in determining future goals, and the role of the athletic institution and its constituent members in promoting or deterring degree completion is explored. Student aspiration to attain a degree, expectations for job prospects and financial opportunity after college is also discussed. Contextual and perceptual elements emerged as salient attributes in their experiences as students and athletes. The study results are consistent with previous findings linking academic engagement and motivation, to family and environment.