Since there is so much interest in sports scholarships, I decided to devote another college blog post to the subject. If you missed yesterday’s post, here it is:
I’ve met many parents who ask about particular sports and the odds of winning an athletic scholarship. I’m afraid a lot of families think that there are overlooked sports where pots of gold are hiding.
Sorry folks, that’s not the case.
Why Full-Rides Are Scarce
Yesterday I mentioned that the odds of a high school athlete getting a sports scholarships is 2%, but the odds are far worse on getting a full-ride. Here’s the explanation for why that is which I pulled from the athletic chapter in my new edition of The College Solution:
And Then There’s the Equivalency Sports
All the other sports, including soccer, baseball, lacrosse, golf, swimming and every other one not among the six head-count sports are classified as equivalency sports. The NCAA dictates the maximum number of scholarships allowed per sport, but full-ride aren’t required. Coaches in the equivalency sports can divide up their scholarships to attract as many promising athletes as they can. Slicing and dicing scholarships often leads to some pretty dinky awards. Smaller awards, by the way, than you would routinely get for merit scholarships!
The New York Times ran a story back in 2008 that tracked the number of scholarships offered nationwide in each sport along with the number of sliced-and-diced scholarships. I couldn’t obtain a more current list from the NCAA and I assume that the numbers are still in the ball park. Here’s a couple of examples that I pulled from the research:
More than 600,000 girls competed in track and field in high school while there were only 4,506 scholarships. These scholarships were split among 9,888 athletes and the average award was $8,105.
More than 330,000 boys played soccer in high school while there were 2,357 soccer scholarships. These soccer scholarships were split among 6,047 students and the average award was $8,533.
These are dreadful odds.
The only sport that I’ve found where there is almost as many participants as there are scholarships is women’s rowing. I attribute that to the fact that not many high schools have rowing teams. About 2,360 girls rowed on high school teams and there were 958 rowing scholarships divided among 2,295 athletes. The average rowing scholarship was $9,723. Actually, this even might be misleading because many teenagers out here in San Diego, at least, only row at private clubs so the number of high school rowers could be artificially low.
The New York Times article had a chart that listed the number of scholarships and the average amount by sport. Here is the article:
In the article’s side bar, you can find a list of the NCAA sports by their average scholarship amount.
It’s best if families assume that an athletic scholarship isn’t going to happen. Instead students should focus on being the best students they can and, if they do, they will increase their chances of earning academic merit award where the odds of receiving one are far higher and the awards are far greater.
Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price.