How to Get Recruited Guide

What are the Odds of Getting an Athletic Scholarship

I have talked to hundreds of parents over the years who are “investing” in their child’s athletic career in the hopes that college will be paid for by the athletic scholarship at the end of the rainbow. If you are reading this, I assume you are a parent who has bought into this thinking or at least put a toe in the water, hoping your child would receive a “full ride”.

Reality is not always fun, but it will help you prepare.

*If you are a coach, please share this with your parents.

How many student-athletes actually receive athletic scholarships?

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. (Don’t rule out Division 3. They award other types of scholarships.)

What are the odds of playing in college?

Six percent of all high school athletes will play collegiately. 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 Sports

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

Equivalency sports are those sports in which the coaches have a certain dollar amount that can be 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 the pot is divided.

  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? The truth may be starting to dawn on you. Let’s say the school you are interested in (example is a Division 2, private school, men’s soccer) 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.

He 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 he 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.

Likely, 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.

The Scholarship

Your chances of finding a place to play if you are proactive are good. There are scholarships out there and hopefully you will get one, but don’t count on a “full ride.” It is not hopeless though. It is not all about the athletic scholarship. It is about 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 this for yourself, you better be prepared to work as hard in the recruiting process as you do in on the field or in the gym.

Next, take a look at The Final Price is What Really Matters.

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

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

The recruiting process is difficult if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Introducing, The How to Get Recruited Guide: A step-by-step plan to turn your teen’s sports talent into offers from excellent college and university sports programs.

“How to Get Recruited and the blog have been our go to for almost 2 years. My eldest was recruited by a couple of schools right away and I am happy to say she chose an NAIA school.

-Cristina P.

You can get your athlete recruited. You can give your teenager an opportunity that will change their whole life.

Get the guide: How to Get Recruited