How to Get Recruited Guide
secrets about athletics scholarships

Little Known Secrets About Athletic Scholarships

Little Known Secrets About Athletic Scholarships

Twenty years ago, when I was a young coach, I gave an amazing speech to the parents of my U13 boys team. As a coach in my mid-twenties I was pretty sure I had everything figured out. With authority, I told the parents they needed be in this for the long haul. If they stuck with our club, their boys would all get athletic scholarships.

Six years later, two of them played in college. I am not sure what kind of athletic scholarships they had, but I do know they were not large. Not one of my players received a full-ride scholarship; instead most of them walked away with an empty promise.

At the time I believed every word of my speech. Now I know better and would never give that same speech again. The problem is some (dishonest) colleges, coaches, and recruiting services know better – they know the percentages of athletes who receive athletic scholarships – and they keep those numbers a secret. This morning a parent asked me to look at a recruiting service that claimed “100% of our student-athletes receive an offer”. When you see a promise like that think critically and ask yourself, what kind of offer? A full-ride? A couple hundred? A chance to play?

What are the odds of getting  an athletic scholarship?

Division 1 and 2 schools are providing $2.7 billion in athletic scholarships annually, HOWEVER…

Only 53% of all Division 1 athletes are receiving some level of athletic aid.

Only 56% of all Division 2 athletes are receiving some level of athletic aid.

0% of all Division 3 athletes are receiving athletic aid.

What are your odds to play in college?

To begin with six percent of all high school athletes will play collegiately. However, even fewer are awarded any form of athletic financial aid. The percentage of high school athletes who play collegiately and are awarded athletic financial aid drops to just two percent. This includes the NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA.

Bonus Fact: Only two percent of NCAA athletes go on to be professional athletes.

What Athletic Scholarships Are Available?

The NCAA regulates the maximum number of scholarships Division 1 and 2 schools may offer. Schools may offer fewer or none at their discretion. Many Division 2 secondary sports often don’t offer the maximum number of scholarships.

There are two types of recognized sports for scholarships: head count and equivalency. YOU NEED TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.

Head Count Sports

First, headcount sports are those in which any scholarship to a player, whether it is one dollar or a full scholarship, counts toward the program’s number. In these sports full scholarships are common. But the list of these sports is short: men’s basketball and football, women’s basketball, gymnastics, tennis, and volleyball.

Equivalency Sports

In contrast, the coaches of equivalency sports have a certain dollar amount they can split among multiple athletes in any proportion they choose. This includes all of the other sports. What does this actually mean? It means a full scholarship is rare. It is in the coach’s best interest to get as many high caliber athletes as possible and so they divide the pot.

  NCAA Allowed Scholarship Numbers  
  Headcount Sports
  Men Women
  Division 1 Division 2 Division 1 Division 2
Basketball 13 10 15 10
Football   36 n/a n/a
Bowl Subdivision 85   n/a n/a
Champion Subdivision 63   n/a n/a
*Gymnastics see below see below 12 6
*Tennis see below see below 8 6
*Volleyball see below see below 12 8
* Men’s gymnastics, tennis and volleyball are counted as Equivalency Sports.
  Equivalency Sports
  Men Women
  Division 1 Division 2 Division 1 Division 2
Archery n/a n/a 5 9
Badminton n/a n/a 6 10
Baseball 11.7 9 n/a n/a
Bowling n/a n/a 5 5
Cross Country/Track & Field 12.6 12.6 18 12.6
Equestrian n/a n/a 15 15
Fencing 4.5 4.5 5 4.5
Field Hockey n/a n/a 12 6.3
Golf 4.5 3.6 6 5.4
*Gymnastics 6.3 5.4 see above see above
Ice Hockey 18 13.5 18 18
Lacrosse 12.6 10.8 12 9.9
Rowing n/a n/a 20 20
Rifle 3.6 3.6 n/a n/a
Rugby n/a n/a 12 12
Skiing 6.3 6.3 7 6.3
Soccer 9.9 9 14 9.9
Softball n/a n/a 12 7.2
Squash n/a n/a 12 9
Swimming/Diving 9.9 8.1 14 8.1
Synchronized Swimming n/a n/a 5 5
Team Handball n/a n/a 10 12
*Tennis 4.5 4.5 see above see above
*Volleyball 4.5 4.5 see above see above
Water Polo 4.5 4.5 8 8
Wrestling 9.9 9 n/a n/a
NAIA Allowed Scholarship Numbers
Equivalency Sports  
Baseball 12  
Basketball (Division 1) 11  
Basketball (Division 2) 6  
Cross Country 5  
Football 24  
Golf 5  
Soccer 12  
Softball 10  
Swimming & Diving 8  
Tennis 5  
Track & Field 12  
Wrestling 8  
Volleyball 8  

How Do Equivalency Sports Divide Their Scholarships?

Does your dream program have plenty of full scholarships and some lesser scholarships as well? Now the truth may be starting to dawn on you. Let’s say you are interested in a school (for example a Division 2, private school, men’s soccer) that has 9 full scholarships and tuition is $30,000. Here’s what happens: the coach multiplies 9 x $30,000 which equals $270,000. This is the total amount of money he has to cover all his players, not just incoming freshmen or transfers.

There are 30 players on the roster. The coach could decide to give out these 9 scholarships as full rides to 9 players, but that would leave 21 players with no scholarship, including 2 starters.

Most likely the coach will distribute money between 18-22 players. He will count on having a few walk-ons who receive no money. If he divides the pot of money among 22 players, the average player would receive $12,272 toward a yearly tuition of $30,000.

As a result this coach will not be handing out very many ‘full ride’ scholarships. Most likely the coach will be dividing these scholarships up to make the most impact for the program, by signing as many good to great players as possible. The coach draws those great players by offering them more money. If one player receives $20,000, to balance it out another must receive $4,000.

Getting Athletic Scholarships Take Work

Your chances of finding a place to play, if you are proactive, are good. There are athletic scholarships out there and hopefully you will get one, but don’t count on a “full ride.” But don’t give up hope. Focus not only on athletic scholarships, but on the total financial aid a school will give you.

Great opportunities come to those who work, even in a competitive environment such as making a collegiate roster and receiving an athletic scholarship. If you want to play in college work as hard in the recruiting process as you do on the field or in the gym.

What To Do If You Don’t Know What To Do

Do you feel anxiety building, wondering what you need to do?

If you feel like you have been stumbling along or have not even started the recruiting process, it is time to take action.

Nobody can guarantee you that you will end up on a college roster or that a coach will offer you an athletic scholarship? However, you can greatly increase your chances if you know what to do.

If you are ready for Recruiting to be made easy, you are ready for

How to Get RecruitedHow to Get Recruited: Got Talent. Get a Plan. Get Recruited.





Here is another great article about scholarships: Don’t Make These Two Recruiting Mistakes in Communication and Scholarships


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