Master's Thesis Grabs National Attention

Monday, November 20, 2017

UNC Charlotte master’s student Corey B. Kelly’s thesis focusing on the public relations implications of NBA players’ protest of the national anthem was one of the most downloaded documents in October, according to ProQuest, a global online source for scholarly information.

Kelly’s thesis, “Internal Activism and Its Implications for Organizational Legitimacy: A Case Study of the NBA’s Reaction to the National Anthem Protests in Sports” was among ProQuest’s top 25 downloads.  His thesis was prepared under the direction of Daniel Grano.

According to Kelly, the thesis “presents a case study analysis that investigates the NBA’s collective reaction to the surrounding issues of protest and racial justice to illuminate how athletes engage in social activism, and how teams and leagues respond to such activism in public. The collective response from the NBA to the anthem protests illuminates how tensions between organizational interests and internal activist publics' social justice activities can be productively negotiated fulfilling society obligations while still maintaining organizational legitimacy.”

Kelly received his master's in Communication Studies in May 2017.

For information on the Master of Arts in Communications graduate program, visit